FARMINGTON — The suspected drunken driver who allegedly caused a head-on crash in Newcomb that killed three people was charged with three counts of second-degree murder last week.
On July 14, Tillman Begaye, a 32-year-old Shiprock man, was driving a Dodge pickup northbound in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 491, and he crashed into a sedan near mile marker 50, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in federal court.
A man and two women, who were not identified in court documents, were in the sedan and died at the scene.
New Mexico State Police crash investigators determined Begaye was driving between 75 and 85 miles per hour when he crashed, according to court documents.
Begaye was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center after the crash, and tests showed his blood-alcohol concentration was 0.216, which is almost three times the legal limit of .08 for operating a motor vehicle, according to the documents.
The day after the crash, Tillman allegedly admitted to a Navajo Nation criminal investigator that he was drinking the day of the crash.
But Tillman told the investigator he had picked up a hitchhiker and that he wasn't driving at the time of the crash, despite several witnesses reporting to police that Tillman was the lone person in the vehicle in the crash and was in the driver's seat, according to the documents.
The FBI arrested Tillman last week, and he made his first appearance in court on Tuesday.
Tillman was two prior drunken driving convictions in Colorado. He was on probation for drunken driving at the time of the crash.
The accident was the first San Juan County crash this year that resulted in multiple fatalities.
Eight people have been killed in car crashes on San Juan County roads this year.
Statewide, 132 people were killed in fatal crashes in New Mexico from January through June, according to the transportation department.