ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department is still searching for the hit-and-run driver nearly a day after a deadly crash right outside the River of Lights. On Monday night, APD was at a home near 65th Street and Avalon Rd. where they were investigating a vehicle that looks similar to the ATV used in the hit-and-run where 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya was killed and his father was seriously hurt.
A viewer sent KRQE News 13 a video of a large police presence at the with what appears to be a similar ATV to the one in the crash. KRQE News 13 checked with APD to confirm if they believe this was the vehicle involved but have not heard back.
Meanwhile, locals are frustrated that more isn’t known about the driver of the vehicle at this point. “Nobody can come up with the color of the car, what kind it was. And there was a lot of people there. They had to have seen it,” Melinda Methvin of Albuquerque said.
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APD said the Bhattacharya’s family of four was in the crosswalk with the walk sign, heading back to their car at the Tingley Beach lot around 8:30 p.m. That’s when the driver of a four-person ATV blew through the red light.
Police say Pronoy was dragged and died on the scene. The father is expected to recover. On Monday, APD released snapshots of the vehicle involved that fled westbound on Central Ave. after the crash. It’s described as gray or dark-colored with no windshield and no license plate.
APD also said officers have noticed more ATV-type vehicles driving dangerously on Central on the weekends in recent weeks.
“I just think that’s so tragic, one: because they didn’t stick around to take accountability for it. You know, accidents happen but that you didn’t stay,” said Susan Brown, another Albuquerque resident.
APD said they had officers working overtime inside the River of Lights at the time of the crash who then came out to help but none doing traffic control at the very busy event. It’s unclear if they plan to now. The city’s Arts and Culture Department sent the following statement:
River of Lights at the BioPark has a traffic control and security plan each year in coordination with City departments. This plan includes security both inside and outside of the Botanic Garden throughout the month-long event with additional resources when necessary on busier evenings.
The incident last night is a tragic result of the actions of a driver with no regard for the law. The preliminary investigation concluded that the family used the crosswalk properly. Sadly a driver flagrantly broke traffic laws, claimed a young life, and then fled the scene.Tanya Lenti, marketing manager at the City of Albuquerque Cultural Services Department
On Monday night, people say they’re happy to see a crossing guard at the intersection which they say can be scary at night. There is also a growing memorial for the child. Bhattacharya was a second-grader at Georgia O’Keeffe Elementary. Albuquerque Public Schools sent an email notifying families a student passed away unexpectedly. The school will have counselors and extra staff on campus on Tuesday.
Anyone with information on the crash is urged to call 505-242-COPS.