Farmington police urge motorists to use caution after spate of vehicle accidents

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – The past several weeks have seen a spate of traffic accidents, some involving pedestrians and some of them fatal, in various places across Farmington.

While police say they are talking with traffic engineers about any road safety issues they also say there is no clear pattern for the incidents.

“I believe it’s human error – every one of these is different,” said Sgt. Jonathan Jensen who oversees the Farmington Police Department’s Traffic Division. “You’d think if it were an engineering issue you’d see more patterns.”

Jensen said three recent crashes happened within 100 yards of the intersection of West Murray Drive, the Bisti Highway and West Pinon Street:

• One where a car failed to complete a turn while turning left.

• One where Jensen said the sun was in the driver’s eyes. The vehicle ran a red light and hit a truck.

• One in which a driver suspected of being intoxicated crashed a vehicle and the front seat passenger died.

One recent death happened after passers-by called police to report a man was in a roadway.

“We are exploring what kind of options we can do as far as pedestrian safety,” Jensen said, adding that personal responsibility and careful, sober driving and walking practices are among the keys to people staying safe on the roads.

For corridors where speed is a problem Jensen said traffic studies can be done and radar trailers employed. In other cases there are grants to fund officer overtime for speed enforcement.

“We just encourage people to stay observant,” Jensen said.

Three recent Farmington fatalities

On Feb. 2 at 9:14 p.m. police responded to a pedestrian and vehicle crash near 1001 East Murray Drive near McCormick School Road.

“Before the crash, there were several callers reporting a man in the roadway. He was struck by a pickup truck and was determined to be deceased on scene,”  police spokesperson Nicole Brown said via email. “The pedestrian was identified as 21-year-old Matthew Eaton.” 

On Feb. 22  at 2:10 p.m. there was a suspected DWI crash at West Murray Drive and West Pinon Street. 

“The vehicle was westbound on Murray when it left the roadway and drove through a chain-link fence,” Brown said. “The front-seat passenger was killed.”

The driver was 44-year-old Carlisle Yazzie, who was arrested for suspected homicide by vehicle while driving intoxicated, having an open container and other, minor offenses, Brown said. Police identified the front-seat passenger as 35-year-old Leighton Begaye.”

On March 2 at 7:22 p.m. another pedestrian was struck by a vehicle. Vehicle, this time near Deer Trail and West Main Street. 

“The vehicle was westbound on Main Street and struck the pedestrian in the roadway,” Brown said via email on March 8. 

The pedestrian, 53-year-old Lovita Etcitty, was rushed to San Juan Regional Medical Center and later flown to a hospital in Albuquerque, Brown said, where she died on March 7. 

Pedestrian safety tips

The University of Michigan - Dearborn offers these safety tips for pedestrians:

• Jog or walk with a friend. If you can, bring someone you trust with you.

• Stick to familiar territory. Knowing where you are and where you’re going will save you from getting lost.

• Avoid secluded areas, especially at night. If you’re out and about after dark, stick to well-lit and populated areas.

• Always carry your phone. You never know when you may need to call for help in the event of an emergency.

• Wear bright or reflective clothing. Again, this is especially important at night. As a pedestrian, you need to be seen by drivers.

• Face oncoming traffic. You need to see what’s coming toward you.

• Don’t wear headphones. If you’re zoned out listening to music, you’re not paying attention to your surroundings. You’re more likely to bump into people, trip, walk into traffic or become a target for theft or attack.

Source: https://umdearborn.edu/offices/department-public-safety/prevention-education/safety-tips-crime-prevention/jogging-and-walking

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at jmoses@daily-times.com.

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