City employees killed in crash on U.S. 491

Steve Garrison
Auto Crash

FARMINGTON — Two city employees and a third man were killed in a two-vehicle crash Wednesday night near the New Mexico-Colorado border, according to a Navajo Police Department press release.

Navajo police officers were dispatched at 9:50 p.m. to mile marker 107 on U.S. Highway 491 in Shiprock after receiving reports that a city of Farmington vehicle had collided with a pick-up truck, the release states.

Officers discovered the pick-up truck on fire at the scene, and all three men were dead, according to the press release.

The city of Farmington identified the employees in a press release issued on Thursday as Chase Powell and Joe Schmidt. Navajo police have not identified the third victim.

Powell and Shmidt were employees of the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department at the Piñon Hills Golf Course, according to the city's press release. The men were traveling home from an irrigation workshop in Grand Junction, Colo., at the time of the crash.

City Manager Rob Mayes said in the press release that he wished to express condolences and sympathy to the families of the two employees on behalf of the city.

"I also want to acknowledge the remarkable impact this terrible event is having on those employees who worked closely with these men, our employee family here at the City of Farmington, and to our Farmington community as a whole," he said. "There is simply no good way to express how we feel and the depth of the pain this news caused to so many."

The city of Farmington will have grief counseling available for employees.

The Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations and New Mexico State Police are investigating the cause of the crash.

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