Two people charged in unrelated police pursuits

Steve Garrison
Christie Smith

FARMINGTON — Two people faces charges in unrelated incidents where they allegedly led police on high-speed pursuits, including a woman police claim attempted to strike several vehicles during a chase east of Bloomfield.

Christie Ann Smith was charged Aug. 8 in Farmington Magistrate Court with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, vehicle theft, felony vandalism and multiple traffic violations.

Smith's attorney, Ellen Wayne, did not respond to a request for comment.

Smith, 40, of Aztec, was arrested Aug. 3 on allegations she crashed a stolen Ford Ranger through fences at a Blanco residence after a police pursuit, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

A New Mexico State Police officer spotted the vehicle at about 5 p.m. as it sped east in the median on U.S. 64 east of Bloomfield, the affidavit states. The officer began a pursuit as the vehicle veered across lanes at about 85 to 90 miles per hour, according to the affidavit.

The officer noted in the affidavit it appeared the driver attempted to cause a head-on collision while driving east on U.S. 64. The vehicle continued for about six miles on U.S. 64 and then turned north onto County Road 4599 in Blanco.

The officer twice attempted to force the vehicle off the road before it crashed through three barbed wire fences, an electric fence and finally smashed into a tree at No. 90 County Road 4599, according to the affidavit.

Smith was removed from the Ford Ranger and transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center, the affidavit states. She was treated there for a brain hemorrhage and a bruised spleen. She also fractured bones in her eye socket, nose, jaw and forearm.

Motorist Timothy Bergin told police Smith allegedly attempted to strike his vehicle on County Road 4599, according to the affidavit.

"(The driver) jerked the wheel, and came at me," Bergin said in the affidavit. "It scared me a lot."

Police learned after an investigation Smith allegedly stole the vehicle from a friend at the Shell Gas Station at 204 S. Bloomfield Blvd. in Bloomfield, the affidavit states.

Cherylanne Doerr told police she left Smith in the car at the gas station when she went inside to pay, according to the affidavit. She said Smith and the vehicle were gone when she exited the gas station, the affidavit states.

Smith is being held on a $25,000 bond at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

Nathan Berke was charged Aug. 10 in Farmington Magistrate Court with receiving a stolen vehicle, methamphetamine trafficking, forgery, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, aggravated driving while intoxicated, concealing identity, and several traffic violations.

Berke, 36, of Albuquerque, also faces charges of aggravated fleeing in Aztec Magistrate Court.

Nathan Berke

He has not yet retained legal representation, according to court records.

Police received reports at 3:20 a.m. on Aug. 9 that a possible drunken driver was headed east in a Lexus on East Murray Drive, according to court records.

The officer attempted to stop the vehicle on East Murray Drive near Camina Entrada, but it sped off at 80 miles per hour east toward Bloomfield, records state.

The vehicle, after veering back and forth on U.S. Highway 64, eventually went off the road on an unidentified county road, records state.  The vehicle continued to flee from police, but was pinned at a dead end on County Road 3959, according to records.

The driver attempted to flee on foot, but was tackled by an officer and cuffed, records state.

Police found a bag containing 2.7 ounces of meth at the scene and a hypodermic needle, according to records.

Officers found several drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, in Burke's car, records state.

Burke is being held without bond at the detention center.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.