From day one police called the crash that left a 12-year-old girl dead in a crosswalk by her school a tragic accident, and now, the Albuquerque Police Department has wrapped up its investigation.
Back in March, Cleveland Middle schooler Eliza Alumina was walking to the school carnival when she was hit and killed by an SUV. She was with her friend when police said the two dashed dashed across Louisiana using a crosswalk. Almuina was rushed to the hospital where she later died.
As soon as officers got to the chaotic scene, they were approached by witnesses that crowded the sidewalks.
“He had no way of seeing her,” one person said.
“When I looked up he was very fast going to where he is now,” another witness said.
“I think, ‘C***, they really shouldn’t be doing that,'” a driver told police.
Albuquerque police also spoke to Almuina’s friend who was with her when it all happened.
“She said, ‘Okay. Ready. Set. Go.’ And I ran as fast as I can and that’s when she got hit,” the girl said.
The girls had just left Smith’s Grocery Store after they had bought a snack. They were crossing the street at Louisiana and Natalie, using the crosswalk. Drivers headed southbound reported the two girls paused in the median.
“Were you walking across the crosswalk?” one officer asked Almuina’s friend.
“No. We ran because we didn’t want to get hit,” she told police.
One driver, heading south from Montgomery in the left lane, stopped to let the girls cross.
“I felt guilty that I even stopped for them…” she told police after the crash. “He couldn’t have known.”
However, the 76-year-old man she’s referring to never stopped. He was driving a silver GMC SUV, in the right lane, when he drove past the stopped minivan into the crosswalk, hitting Almuina.
He told police he never saw the girls until it was too late.
“I stopped as quickly as I could but I hit the one little girl,” he said.
Another driver told police she saw the SUV behind her in the “left lane” when she came to a sudden stop, behind the mini van. She said the driver in the SUV swerved around the stopped cars, into the right lane, hitting Almuina.
“Yeah. I feel like he just came, got impatient and went around,” she told officers.
Days after the crash, APD reconstructed the crash and say they believe the driver swerved to “avoid crashing into” the two stopped cars.
Officers found the elderly driver was going anywhere from 37-40 mph when he switched lanes and passed cars stopped at the crosswalk.
APD also determined the driver that day was quote “not attentive” enough to see the cars in front of him stopping for the girls, but that the girls ran into “heavy traffic.” APD concluded its investigation by saying the actions of both the driver and the girls contributed to the crash.
“To me, it was a horrible accident,” one witness said.
The department forwarded that investigation to the District Attorney’s office to decide if the driver should be charged.
Almuina’s family intends to sue the city over the design of the crosswalk. That crosswalk had no stop sign and lights flashing only right before and after school. This summer, the city redesigned the crosswalk, to include a HAWK signal which has a red light activated by a walk button.