Driver killed in fatal crash after police chase ends


CUBA, N.M. (KRQE) – One man is dead after New Mexico State Police say he ran his car into a building at more than 100 mph. They say it happened just inside Cuba city limits, moments after officers stopped chasing him.

Police say the driver was speeding southbound when it came to a stretch of road and just could not make the turn.

Cuba local Clifford Mitchell had never seen anything like it.

“I’m feeling the car, the wind of the car going by me. That’s crazy,” Mitchell said. “I was in shock. I didn’t move for a minute.”

It was close to 7 a.m. when Mitchell says he heard a car barreling his way.

“I knew there was no way. There was no way he was gonna make it through this corner,” Mitchell said. “He slid, he hits the curb, he goes airborne… goes into building — boom!”

Mitchell says he rushed toward the cloud of dust and into the building. He called 911, but before someone could pick up the phone, he says State Police were already on scene.

“The officer got out there… was a small fire in the engine compartment. Officer put the fire out and tried to save the guy, but the driver was dead,” Mitchell said.

State Police say the officer had started tracking the car several miles before they hit town. They say he was patrolling 550 when he clocked the driver going 90 miles per hour.

State Police say the officer hit his lights and siren to pull over the driver, but he only went faster, almost 130 miles per hour.

“Because the vehicle was entering into city limits, because of safety, the officer decided to terminate the pursuit. The officer backed down, turned off his lights, started driving int the city limits of  Cuba and then noticed a big cloud of dust,” a State Police spokesperson said.

The car ended up lodged in a church building right in the middle of town. Luckily, no one was inside New Life Christian Center and no one else was injured in the crash.

However, locals say high speeds have had devastating consequences for drivers who are unfamiliar with this stretch of road.

“This is the second time there’s been a crash there in two months,” a Cuba resident said.

Despite the chase ending just moments before the crash, New Mexico State Police say the officer did everything right.

The building is now in bad shape, the only thing holding it up are a few stilts. State Police say the force of the impact was so great, bricks from the front of the building ended up lodged in the back walls of the church.

State Police say they have yet to identify the driver, but say he did have a Colorado plate. They also found what appeared to be medical marijuana in the car, but they’ll have to test to make sure.

State Police say they will know more with the results of an autopsy.


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