ARTESIA, N.M, (KRQE) – A Children, Youth and Families Department worker is under investigation after she was caught on camera speeding down a highway in a state car with two young kids in the backseat.
It happened on U.S. 285 south of Artesia on Tuesday afternoon. Dustin Savoie says he was speeding down an open stretch of the highway on his way to work.
“The speed limit’s 70 [mph] on this highway,” Savoie said. “I was already doing 90 and they were coming up on me pretty fast.”
Savoie spotted a truck and a white CYFD sedan come speeding past him. He pulled out his cell phone while behind the wheel, something News 13 does not endorse, and started recording.
While catching up with the CYFD car, Savoie points his camera at the speedometer, which showed a speed of around 95 mph.
Then Savoie noticed something else, two young children in the backseat of the car. He says at least one wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Savoie’s video shows the child flashing him a peace sign at one point.
“They’re supposed to be in charge of protecting kids so it kind of — I don’t know — kind of rubbed me the wrong way,” Savoie said. “I was waiting for a cop to pull out to pull somebody over and it never happened.”
That may be because of the other truck Savoie filmed. KRQE News 13 has learned the truck in the video was an unmarked Eddy County Sheriff’s vehicle escorting the CYFD driver and the children in her custody.
Savoie continued following the car to Carlsbad. Its final destination wasn’t a hospital, but the CYFD office in Carlsbad.
KRQE News 13 brought the video to CYFD to try and get some answers.
“It’s our understanding that this was not an emergency situation where this would’ve been necessary for the safety of the child,” said Monique Jacobson, cabinet secretary for CYFD. “It’s unacceptable. We can’t have a situation where we are putting these children into an unsafe situation.”
The worker behind the wheel has been put on “no client contact work”, also known as desk duty, while a full investigation is conducted.
Sgt. Matt Hutchinson with the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department says the department’s opened an investigation of its own into what’s shown on the video.
“We do not condone such actions,” Hutchinson wrote in a statement. “The matter is currently under investigation by our agency.”
Jacobson says while CYFD hasn’t been able to determine whether the children were wearing seat belts or not, the speeding alone is in violation of state policy.