Santa Fe Police Chief Aric Wheeler on Wednesday confirmed what first responders have been saying for a week: The drivers side airbag in an ambulance involved in a fatal wrong-way I-25 crash on Dec. 14 did not deploy.
Former employees of Rocky Mountain EMS say that same unit was in a crash with airbag deployment a few years ago and fear the airbag was never properly reinstalled. The owner of Rocky Mountain EMS and his attorney have not commented on the airbag concerns and the state’s PRC is investigating.
First responders to the crash told the family about the airbag not deploying since the day of the crash, but police waited until a pair of search warrant affidavits were served on the two vehicles in the crash. Those warrants, I’m told, were filed Wednesday in District Court (I’m actually not working today so have not seen them yet).
Kylene Holmes, 26, was killed when the 2007 Nissan Altima she was driving the wrong-way on northbound I-25 at well over 100 mph collided with the Rocky Mountain EMS ambulance driven by 19-year-old EMT Vanessa Carrillo. Carrillo suffered life-threatening injuries, including facial fractures in the crash which, I’m admittedly guessing here, likely would have been mitigated (not avoided, but mitigated) had there been air bag deployment.
Vanessa remains at UNM Hospital in Albuquerque.
On Tuesday, I got a hold of a search warrant for the blood draw for 38-year-old Jennifer Michelle Belvin, the surviving passenger in the Altima Holes drove. Wheeler told me he thinks she should be charged with something even though she didn’t drive. He tlod me:
“She may not have been the driver, but it’s apparent both made the conscious decision together to get in a car and drive after they were drinking. We talk about how drunk-driving fatality statistics are improving around the state because of different measures we’re now taking — well, maybe this is next. Maybe it’s time we start focusing on passengers in the car, too, and holding them accountable for being part of the crime.
Both women were at Cowgirl BBQ drinking before the crash and an employee there offered to buy them a cab ride home and threatened to call police (and he did) if they tried to drive away.
I’m not sure who the next article will be written by in The New Mexican since I’m off for the holidays, but make sure to peek at Thursday’s paper for another update on this story.
And there is still a fund set up at First Community Bank in Santa Fe to help with Carrillo’s expenses.