One man is dead after a wreck Saturday near U.S. Highway 550 and County Road 7100 south of Bloomfield.
One man is dead after a wreck Saturday near U.S. Highway 550 and County Road 7100 south of Bloomfield. (Molly Maxwell /Special to The Daily Times)

BLOOMFIELD — A 45-year-old man is dead after a crash between two semitrucks Saturday morning on U.S. Highway 550 south of Bloomfield.

The crash occurred at about 9:45 a.m. near the highway's intersection with County Road 7100, closing Highway 550 for much of the day on Saturday.

The name of the deceased man has not been released. Police on Saturday evening were still trying to notify the man's family. The man's last known address was in Houston, Texas.

New Mexico State Police Sgt. Micah Doering said that on Saturday morning, Leopoldo Vargas, 47, of Los Lunas, was driving an Edeal Dairy Truck on County Road 7100 hauling silage on his daily route.

Doering said that Vargas was unable to stop at a stop sign before turning onto Highway 550. Skid marks near a cattle guard on County Road 7100 indicate the driver applied the brakes, Doering said.

Vargas struck an empty chemical truck heading south on Highway 550. That truck is owned by Miller Transporting, Inc., a company based out of Jackson, Miss. Doering said the truck has been hauling nitrous oxide, but it was empty at the time of the crash.

The driver died at the scene. He was wearing a seat belt.

"He was crushed in place," Doering said.

Vargas walked away from the wreck without major injuries, Doering said.

Doering said when the first officer arrived on scene, visibility on the road was limited to about 300 feet. Fog was a factor, Doering said.

"The only unknown we have is there is a claim there was some mechanical troubles with truck," Doering said.

He said investigators will look into any possible mechanical issues with the truck.

Police are still investigating the wreck, and no charges have been filed against Vargas.

An empty chemical truck is seen on Saturday afternoon after it was involved in a fatal wreck near U.S. Highway 550 and County Road 7100. The driver of the
An empty chemical truck is seen on Saturday afternoon after it was involved in a fatal wreck near U.S. Highway 550 and County Road 7100. The driver of the truck died at the scene. (Molly Maxwell / Special to The Daily Times)

"I can say with fair certainty that vehicular homicide will be ruled out," Doering said. "Based on the statute and what we would have to prove, I don't believe it's going to rise to that charge."

Highway 550 was closed for much of the afternoon, causing major traffic delays. Corn from the Edeal Dairy Truck was scattered throughout the road. Tractors and trucks were brought in to remove kernels from the road.

Before 3 p.m., New Mexico state police opened the southbound lane of Highway 550 and directed traffic through the area. Among those caught in traffic were fans and cheerleaders from Belen High School, who were traveling to Farmington for the state semifinal football game.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.