ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The driver of the white Ford Mustang involved in a school bus crash has been charged with two counts of great bodily harm by vehicle. According to a criminal complaint, 49-year-old Mario Perez was traveling westbound on Gibson Blvd SW at a high rate of speed in a white Ford Mustang racing a blue Ford Mustang
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The complaint states an Albuquerque Public School bus was traveling northbound on Messina Dr. SW. and was approaching the intersection at Gibson Blvd. As the bus proceeded through the intersection, the white Ford Mustang collided with the right rear passenger side of the bus. Due to the impact, the bus rolled onto its left side.
According to a spokesperson for Albuquerque Public Schools, there were 23 students on board at the time of the crash. Seven students on board and the bus driver were sent to the hospital for injuries. According to the criminal complaint, a 14-year-old suffered a pelvic fracture and a 13-year-old suffered a femur fracture – both injuries requiring surgery.
The Albuquerque Police Department reports that Perez was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital for a broken femur. According to APD, witnesses say two Ford mustangs were racing and traveling at a high rate of speed. One witness estimated the cars hit speeds of approximately 110 miles per hour.
APD says a warrant for the charges of great bodily harm by vehicle was delivered to the hospital and Perez will be booked once he is released. Police are asking the public if they know anything about the other driver of the blue Ford Mustang, contact (505)-242-COPS.
Neighbors in the area say they’re not surprised with Wednesday’s crash because it’s not out of the ordinary for drivers to fly up and down Gibson. In fact, installing a traffic signal on Gibson and 98th has been a long-time priority for the city.
Gibson is a straight shot with no traffic signals. Neighbors say that makes it the perfect street for speeding and racing. “It’s an isolated street. It’s not being patroled that often. The kids know that they can come up here and do their thing,” says Paul Padilla, a parent who lives nearby.
Padilla has been visiting his parent for the past three weeks. He says since then, he’s noticed speeding and racing all day, every day.
Then on Wednesday, he was home watching TV when the bus crashed – just a block away from his parent’s home. Padilla says the city needs to install a traffic signal at Gibson and 98th Street.
City Councilor Klarissa Peña agrees and has been working on getting those lights installed since early 2017. “Lots of public safety issues in the area,” Peña says.
Last year, the city said the design was underway, the project should be complete by the middle of this year. KRQE asked the city for a progress report on the intersection Thursday. They say, because of pandemic-related delays, they’re hopeful it’ll be complete by the end of the year.
They will also be extending medians, adding sidewalks, and improving lighting at the intersection, as well as asking for residents’ input. The state could be asking the feds for nearly $4 million in funding to put toward the intersection makeover at 98th and Gibson. They say the final project will cost about $1.4 million.