Lawsuit: Family claims businesses contributed to deadly DWI crash

New Mexico News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The woman who drove drunk and killed two men on the side of I-25 is at the center of a new lawsuit. The victims’ families are also targeting the places that served her alcohol.

In March 2018, Christie Noriega drove drunk with her two-year-old son in the car. She crashed into Mikey Chambellan and Lonnie Escovedo, who were changing a tire on the side of I-25. Both men were killed instantly.

“It is difficult for me to describe the heartbreak we feel,” said Tracy Chambellan, speaking at Noriega’s sentencing back in April.

Noriega was sentenced to just three years behind bars.

Chambellan and a relative of Lonnie Escovedo have now filed a lawsuit against Noriega, Tomasitas Restaurant, and the Giant gas station where Noriega bought alcohol that night.

Noriega was seen drinking at Tomasita’s in Santa Fe with family just before the crash. The lawsuit claims she was allowed to leave the restaurant although she was “visibly intoxicated.”

It also says she’s seen on Tomasita’s cameras having trouble standing while looking for her keys, and even had to lean against her car.

After leaving Tomasitas, the lawsuit states that Noriega stopped at the Giant gas station on Sawmill Road in Santa Fe. It says she’s seen on cameras there buying two more drinks.

Although they say she was visibly drunk and smelled of alcohol, the gas station attendant still sold her booze. The suit goes on to say Noriega was negligent by driving drunk, disregarding the speed limit, and not looking out for Chambellan and Escovedo, endangering their lives.

The families want her to pay up, along with the restaurant and gas station for continuing to serve her while she was drunk.

The lawsuit doesn’t say how much money the families are seeking. Since this was considered a “non-violent” crime, Judge Louis Mcdonald lowered Noriega’s sentence to just a year and a half.

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