FARMINGTON — The site of a fatal car crash Thursday evening was one the most dangerous intersections in Farmington.
Ladell Light, 37, died Thursday night after he crashed his car into a white GMC truck at the intersection of West Main Street and La Plata Highway. The crash was at 5 p.m., and Light died at San Juan Regional Medical Center three hours later.
Farmington police said several factors are to blame for the high rate of drunken driving crashes at the junction.
"That intersection was one of the most likely of all, at any time of the day, to have DWI crashes," said Farmington police Sgt. Casey Malone.
Farmington police statistics for DWI crashes weren't available Friday, but Malone said the DWI Resource Center in Albuquerque compiled maps of drunken driving crashes in San Juan County, and West Main Street and La Plata Highway has been one of the most common sites in Farmington for past DWI crashes.
The resource center's most recent DWI crash map includes statistics from 1998 to 2005. During that time, the intersection was one of several in Farmington that had more than nine crashes. About 20 percent of all crashes at West Main and La Plata Highway involved alcohol, according to the map.
The intersection is a primary path for people coming and going from Farmington on the western side of the city. It isn't far from places that sell alcohol. It sees heavy truck traffic. And the area's 45 mph speed limit is fast for Farmington city limits, Malone said.
"And it's an odd intersection anyway," he said.
All of those factors can lead to serious crashes, he said, like the fatal one on Thursday.
Police said Light was drinking and driving. People had called 911 and reported Light's driving, and an officer who contacted Light at a gas station at 727 W. Broadway said that Light was inebriated.
Light got into a fight with the officer, wasn't deterred by a police Taser and got into his car and drove west on Broadway. He veered into oncoming traffic lanes several times before he ran a red light at the intersection and crashed, police said.
Light struck a truck from High Desert Roofing that was carrying three people. All suffered minor injuries.
Light had four prior DWI convictions, police said. The most recent was in San Juan County in 2009.
"He was more than just a suspected drunk driver," said Leroi Light, 30, the late man's younger brother. "He was a (mixed martial arts) fighter and a father-of-two."
Leroi Light said his brother worked as a welder and was a good athlete. He played football for Aztec High School and was training for amateur MMA competitions in Towaoc, Colo.
"He will be terribly missed by fellows from Aztec to Albuquerque to out here in Shiprock," he said.
"He wasn't somebody on the streets who drank his life away."
Ryan Boetel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4644. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel.