Do you know what to do if you’re in an accident?
New Mexico State Police said a Carlsbad man may have been inattentive causing his death in a crash on U.S. Highway 285 near Malaga Tuesday.
Jacob Balderrama, 21, was traveling northbound in a 2015 Ford 350 pickup when he crossed into the southbound lane and collided with a Freightlinter semi-truck, according to state police.
State police responded to the crash at about 8:37 a.m. near mile marker 11.
Balderrama was pronounced dead at the scene, said State Police Capt. Lance Bateman
Bateman said the deceased was also not wearing a seatbelt. The driver of the semi was uninjured.
Both drivers were the only occupants in the vehicles.
An investigation is currently ongoing.
Jennifer Armendariz, emergency manager with the Eddy County Management Office, said the highway in that area reopened after it was is closed Tuesday following the crash.
The crash is the second reported in the same area within a week.
On Oct. 25, Chad Rodriquez, 26, of Artesia, and Ricky L. Swafford, 50, of Fairhope Alabama, were killed in a head-on collision near mile marker 14.
Swafford, who was driving a 2008 Ford pickup, was traveling northbound on the highway when he crossed onto the southbound lane, colliding with Rodriquez’s 2015 Chevy pickup.
The State Police’s Reconstruction Unit is currently investigating the Oct. 25 collision.
Bateman said more traffic fatalities have been reported between mile markers 1 and 21.
He said three fatalities were reported this year in that area, compared to none reported in 2016. The number of investigated crashes decreased from nine in 2016 to eight in 2017.
Bateman said a majority of the crashes included inattentive drivers.
Bateman said an increase in traffic related to the oil and gas industry may contribute to the crashes.
“It’s not based on speed,” he said. “Drivers need to be aware and more cognizant, and stop texting and driving.”
State police are working to increase patrol on the highway as well as State Road 128, which passes through Eddy and Lea counties.
Bateman said the department may also add officers outside of the state district to assist in patrol.
‘We can only do so much,” he said.
DeJanay Booth can be reached at 575-628-5546, firstname.lastname@example.org and @DeJanayBooth on Twitter.
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