ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A suspected drunk driver is accused of hitting a pair of bicyclists and taking off. It was a group of Good Samaritans who stayed with them until help arrived. The group of strangers included a nurse, a veteran, and a former medic who did their best to keep everyone calm during an extremely tense situation.
“I saw two people laying in the road, one police officer and some civilians,” said Stephanie Herrera. Herrera was on her way to the gym when she came across a horrible scene.
“It was very traumatic to see,” recalled Herrera. “Just lots of blood, but not to get too graphic but twisting in ways you probably shouldn’t get twisted.”
Two bicyclists were riding along Montano just west of Coors when they were hit by a car. Police said the driver, 29-year-old Joshua Downs, took off without even checking on them. Luckily, Herrera and others did stop.
“When I got there, there was already a former medic, there was a veteran there and a couple other civilians,” said Herrera. “They had already rendered aid already to the patients. I just kind of checked on them to make sure they were alive and breathing.”
Herrera, who is a nurse, said she and the other bystanders held the bicyclists’ hands, tried to comfort them, and did the best they could before paramedics got there.
Police said Downs initially told officers he was driving home from a nearby gas station when he went to turn left and hit a bicyclist. Downs said he got scared and drove home.
Police said Downs then changed his story, admitting to buying and drinking whiskey at the gas station before driving away. According to the criminal complaint, Downs was having a hard time standing while talking to officers. He smelled like alcohol and the windshield of his car was damaged.
Herrera said it was a scary situation, but it was reassuring to see how strangers rushed to help.
“It was so good to see people already there, already helping like I said, they’re more the heroes than I am,” said Herrera. “The paramedic that was there, the Army veteran, there was a female who had never stopped for an accident. She was shaking but she was super strong and I was really proud of her for never having done that before, to talk to the woman and treat her as well as she did.”
Downs is charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence as well as leaving the scene of an accident.
Correction: A previous version of this story said one of the bicyclists died at UNMH. However, APD sent a follow-up email on Oct. 16 saying: “through the investigation and medical examination it did not appear the cyclist was going to survive the severity of her injuries. Officers have since checked on her and she is improving. Due to an error in the report, we would like to extend our apologies to the family and hope she makes a full recovery.”