ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Newly obtained video reveals more about what happened the night an Albuquerque priest was hit and killed. A criminal complaint states investigators believe a young driver was street racing at more than 90 mph when he slammed into Reverend Graham Golden’s car. Lapel video from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department details what crash scene investigators pieced together that night.
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“I’m so Godd* tired of this, dude,” an exasperated deputy said on May 21, as he arrived at the scene of a fatal crash at Coors and Pajarito in the South Valley. A black Hyundai was torn apart. Reverend Graham Golden, 35, and his passenger had been rushed to the hospital. Father Golden didn’t survive.
“It’s horrible,” explained Deputy Scott Magee. “That would be the one thing that I think would hit home with most people is they – everybody has a loved one.” Magee, a Traffic Unit Investigator with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department told KRQE News 13 he’s investigated more than 100 fatal crashes in his career.
“It’s horrible and it’s just heartbreaking every time you have to do it,” said Magee. “And I wish I could just share that with everybody so they could feel that.”
Deputy Magee interviewed witnesses that night. “They had sped around us and they were kind of weaving through traffic as I saw in my rearview,” one witness said.
At least three witnesses told deputies the driver of a white F-150 was speeding, and apparently racing an SUV. Investigators later discovered the SUV was driven by the suspect’s girlfriend.
“The white pickup truck just nailed him dead-on, he T-boned him,” another witness said. “And you said 75-85, that was your estimation?” A deputy asked. “Yeah,” the witness replied.
An 18-year-old driver told investigators he happened to be right behind Golden’s car when the Reverend was T-boned as he pulled out onto Coors. “They were racing,” the teen witness said. “They were racing from over there because they were stopped, and they took off at the same time,” he added.
When asked how fast he thought the F-150 was going, the witness replied, “Like around 80, 80 miles-per-hour.” The young witness was visibly shaken. “I just tried to help them,” he said of the two priests in the Hyundai.
The posted speed limit along that stretch of Coors is 55 mph. Crash scene investigators would later say the driver of the F-150, 22-year-old Manuel Soria, was driving over 90 mph. However, that’s not what he told deputies the night of the crash.
“So how fast were you going that all this happened?” Lapel video shows a deputy who asked Soria about the crash. “I was going the speed limit,” Soria replied.
“What’s the speed limit?” The deputy asked. “Fifty,” Soria replied. “Or 55.”
“So you were going 55?” The deputy asked again. “No, I was going 50,” said Soria. “So you were going under the speed limit?” The deputy followed up. “Under the speed limit, yeah,” said Soria.
Soria said he was following his girlfriend, and she swerved to miss Golden’s car in the roadway. “And I was just shortly behind her, and I happened just to catch them,” said Soria. “And I tried swerving and my brakes locked up, and just ended up hitting them.”
The 22-year-old is now charged with vehicular homicide by reckless driving. Soria does not have a past criminal record. Court records show he received a ticket for running a red light in 2016.
Under his conditions of release until trial, the court ordered that Soria is not allowed to drive. His friends and family had to sign affidavits stating they’ll drive him wherever he needs to go and will report it to the court if Soria gets behind the wheel.
According to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, deputies have responded to 19 fatal crashes so far this year. There have been 21 fatalities related to those crashes.