Crash between suspected drunk driver, deputy sends 3 to hospital


Sandoval County District Attorney’s Office is now investigating a crash between a suspected drunk driver and a Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputy.

“I think my leg is f****ed up,” the deputy told responding Rio Rancho police officers after the crash in January. “I just think my left foot’s broken.”

The crash happened earlier this year on January 19, around 11 p.m. at the intersection of Corrales Road and State Highway 528, north of Rio Rancho.

According to police reports, a Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputy was northbound on SR 528 when a southbound Acura sedan turned in front of the deputy’s truck.

Rio Rancho Police recorded the aftermath of the crash on body cameras.

Crews pulled the deputy out of his truck, while also rushing to help the passenger of the Acura, a man who was laying on the ground, bleeding profusely from the face after having been thrown from the vehicle.

“What do you remember? Do you remember anything?” the officer asked him.

“No,” the passenger responded. “I don’t remember anything.”

The admitted driver, Jacqueline Wheeler, 46, was still sitting behind the wheel.

According to the police report, Wheeler smelled of alcohol and and admitted to drinking before getting behind the wheel.

“I could smell it on her and she told me she had beer,” an officer said on scene.    

She and her passenger were taken to UNM Hospital where Wheeler got the bad news.

“You’re under arrest for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquors or drugs,” the officer told her in her hospital bed.

Blood tests showed Wheeler had a BAC of .10.

While Wheeler was charged in the crash, officers weren’t even looking for her that night.

Body camera video indicates that officers were looking for a speeding motorcyclist moments before the crash. Initially, officer even thought the motorcyclist was involved in the crash. The motorcyclist was said to have been clocked on radar going 140 miles per hour.

One Rio Rancho Police Officer described the moments before Wheeler’s car and the deputy’s truck collided.

“I turned around right here, because we lost it (the motorcycle,)” said the officer. “I was like, ‘yeah, I’m not going to follow it,’ then I turned around and literally dude, I was like by the white sign, all I hear is like, ‘BOOM BOOM BOOM!’

“I looked in my rear view mirror, all I saw was this car, the white Acura,” said the officer.

If convicted, Wheeler faces up to three and half years for the DWI crash.

State Police on Friday said though Wheeler and her passenger were initially reported to have life-threatening injuries following the January crash, both survived.

The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office says the deputy, Joe Harris, is still recovering from his injuries.

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