Santa Fe police have decided no charges will filed in a two-vehicle crash in February that killed a Santa Fe father and his young son, who were headed to the boy’s school that morning.
Dominic Archuleta, 34, who died several days after the crash, was traveling at an excessive speed when his Toyota Scion collided with an SUV at the corner of St. Francis Drive and Paseo de Peralta, across from Hickox Street, according to police reports of the incident.
Archuleta and his 9-year-old son, Jeremiah, died following the Feb. 22 crash. Jeremiah, who had been in the front passenger seat, was pronounced dead later that day at a local hospital. His father remained in a coma at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque until he was removed from life support and died March 2.
“No charges were filed in this case because the driver of the vehicle is deceased,” Santa Fe police spokesman Greg Gurulé said Tuesday, referring to Dominic Archuleta, after agreeing to release police reports on the case.
“The other driver will not be charged,” Gurulé said.
Archuleta had been driving his Scion in the center northbound lane of St. Francis Drive around 7:30 a.m. when he struck a Lexus SUV driven by Julie Sanchez, 43, of Santa Fe, who had been attempting a left turn onto Paseo de Peralta from St. Francis.
The vehicles spun, and the Scion then crashed into a rock wall. Both vehicles were severely damaged.
Police reports said investigating Officer Patrick Sanchez determined Archuleta had been driving 63 mph at the time of the crash — 28 mph over the posted speed limit of 35 mph — and the Lexus was going 16 mph.
Both drivers had a green light, but Julie Sanchez, whose young daughter was in the back seat at the time, did not have a green arrow, the officer said.
Gurulé did not respond to questions late Tuesday about whether the officer and the driver were related.
Julie Sanchez and her daughter were treated at a local hospital and released, according to police.
The officer concluded in his report that while Sanchez should have yielded to oncoming traffic before turning, if Archuleta had adhered to the speed limit, both he and his son “could have survived this crash.”
Neither driver was using a cellphone at the time of the crash, and neither had been wearing a seat belt, but both children were belted in, according to police reports.
However, police said it appeared from injuries Jeremiah suffered to his neck and chest that he had not been buckled in properly.
A witness who had been driving next to Archuleta told police she had been going 45 mph and that Archuleta was driving faster than her in an attempt to beat a traffic light, which she believed had been about to turn yellow, reports said.
Sanchez had been hesitant to turn left, the witness said, and when she did, Archuleta struck her SUV head-on without braking.
Another witness, who had been driving in the opposite direction on St. Francis and was also about to turn left onto Paseo de Peralta, told police Archuleta’s Scion “just flew right through” the intersection and had been “hauling.”
The man then got out of his vehicle to aid Archuleta and his son.
The police reports detailed how first responders tried to save Jeremiah’s life by administering chest compressions, but the boy stopped breathing.
Sanchez hit her head on the passenger-side window of her SUV, cracking it, reports said. She told investigators at the hospital she could not remember anything about the crash.
Jeremiah had been a fourth-grade student at Gonzales Community School. His father, a native Santa Fean, was well-known in the community and had volunteered as a basketball and football coach at his son’s school.
Nicole Quintana, Dominic’s wife and Jeremiah’s mother, has described them both as outgoing and full of life and said the two had bonded over their love of sports.
Hundreds of people, including members of the Gonzales school community and the Archuletas’ church, attended an emotional public memorial for the father and son March 9 at Capital High School.
Their deaths spurred calls for greater safety measures on the St. Francis corridor, which has been the site of numerous recent crashes.