An Albuquerque woman is facing vehicular homicide charges after police say she fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into another vehicle near Edgewood, killing a woman.

Karla Muenze, 38, was driving eastbound on N.M. 333, the old Route 66, around 3 a.m. Sunday when her Hyundai Santa Fe collided with a Ford Explorer, according to a criminal complaint filed by Edgewood police.

Jeanne Marie Hodge, a passenger in the Explorer, died before police arrived. She was not wearing a seat belt, police said.

Officers arrested Muenze and booked her into the Santa Fe County jail. She was arraigned Monday and released on a $5,000 unsecured appearance bond. Court records did not list an attorney for her.

Muenze told investigators she was driving to work and denied drinking alcohol or taking prescription medications before the crash. But one person told police that he was with Muenze the night of the crash and that she drank wine at dinner.

Samuel Smith, the Explorer driver, told police he saw the Hyundai in his rearview mirror driving at a high rate of speed. He said he jerked the steering wheel to the right to avoid a crash. After the accident, Smith climbed out of his vehicle and saw Hodge trapped under the Explorer.

Another passenger, Dustin Brite, pulled her out from underneath the vehicle, but she was already dead, the complaint stated. Brite told police that Hodge was the mother of his child.

It is still unknown how fast Muenze was driving at the time of the crash. Investigators are seeking a search warrant to download information from the Hyundai’s data recorder, Edgewood police Chief Ron Crow said.

“Speed, lane positions, braking input and steering input are the areas we are specifically looking into,” he said.

Once police obtain the data recorder, Crow said he will ship the device to the vehicle manufacturer. He expects it to take about two weeks to get the data back from the company.

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(1) comment

Khal Spencer

Seems that in New Mexico, cars are far more dangerous "in the wrong hands" than guns in the right hands. Or left hands, I suppose...

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