NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Flash flooding from the burn scars near Mora made low water crossings deadly. That was the case for one man who was killed while trying to make it across a raging river. Now the driver of that truck is charged with killing him.
Burn scars caused by the state’s largest wildfire and thunderstorms causing flash flooding has everyone on alert in northern New Mexico. Over the weekend, a fourth person died as a result of the flooding in the area, but police say it was no accident. Court records show 30-year-old John Vasquez was driving a pick-up truck on highway 434 near mile marker seven from Mora, heading north towards Guadalupita.
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According to the criminal complaint, Vasquez told responding NMSP officers that he and his friend, Benjamin Torres, who was also in the truck, had a few beers prior. As Vasquez attempted to drive through the floodwaters, Vasquez says the back end of the truck began to drift sideways.
With the current growing stronger, the truck went into a nearby ditch, flipping over and submerging into the flood waters, taking Torres’ life. “It’s been pretty bad on that road there on 434 has been flooding every day due to the heavy rainfalls. It’s very dangerous. Just advise people and tell them not to go through these flooded areas. Just be cognizant of your surroundings and stay on high ground,” said Mora County Sheriff Amos Espinoza.
According to court documents, Vasquez left the scene. Police say Vasquez drove around several vehicles that had stopped and not entered the low water crossing. Vasquez was arrested and is facing a DWI homicide charge and for leaving the scene of an accident. John Vasquez is scheduled to make his first appearance Tuesday morning in Mora County Magistrate Court.