Parking Division car crashes through residential wall

A city Parking Division car crashed through a residential wall Tuesday on Galisteo Street. A police report indicates the driver might have left the vehicle in gear when she got out to write a ticket. Courtesy image

A recently hired Santa Fe parking enforcement officer may need a refresher course on parking.

Karmela Garcia, who was hired less than a month ago by the city’s Parking Division, was out writing tickets Tuesday when she said she parked a city-owned 2003 Chevrolet on top of a hill on Hospital Drive.

Garcia got out of the car and walked over to a Toyota 4Runner to cite the owner for an unspecified parking violation.

After Garcia stuck the parking ticket under a windshield wiper and turned around to walk back to her car, a police report says, she discovered “the vehicle was gone.”

She found the vehicle had rolled to the bottom of the hill, where it had crashed into a wall at the intersection of Galisteo Street and Hospital Drive.

Garcia also told police that “she might have left the vehicle in drive and that is why the vehicle traveled down the hill,” the report states.

But her boss, Parking Division Director Noel Correia, said Garcia gave her supervisor a different story.

“Her statement is that she thought she had put the car in park — and obviously it was not — and that it may have been in neutral,” he said, adding that he planned to request the police report and call Garcia and her supervisor in for a meeting.

“There’s a new twist to the whole thing, so I’ll have to investigate what exactly has happened here now,” he said.

Efforts to reach Garcia for comment were unsuccessful.

The investigating officer, Jared Loesing, turned off the vehicle’s engine when he arrived at the scene. He wrote in his report that he “could not get the key out of the ignition, suggesting the vehicle was still in drive mode” when it crashed.

The owner of the damaged property, Oswaldo Garcia, who lives in California but plans to move to Santa Fe in January, said he learned Wednesday that a city-owned vehicle had crashed into his wall and “ended up close to demolishing my house.”

In an email to The New Mexican, he wrote, “I’ve been wondering what must have been happening with the driver that made the city-owned car ram into my garden wall.”

Correia said parking enforcement officers will now be required to use the emergency brake when they get out of their cars.

Contact Daniel J. Chacón at 505-986-3089 or Follow him on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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