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Police: Speed, texting, alcohol led to crash

The Daily Times staff
Emergency crews respond to a car crash on Monday north of the Hilltop Giant gas station on U.S. Highway 550.

FARMINGTON — Speed, alcohol and texting while driving are among the factors police say could have contributed to Monday's fatal vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 550

New Mexico State Police Sgt. Chad Pierce said Tuesday that state police officers were dispatched at 3:05 p.m. Monday to milemarker 146 on U.S. Highway 550, located north of the Hilltop Giant gas station, after receiving reports of the rollover crash.

Police found a Pontiac Grand Prix overturned on the side of the roadway, according to Pierce.

Pierce said the male driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, had been ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was identified as 22-year-old Christian Shorty, of Farmington, in a press release from state police on Tuesday evening.

A female passenger, Lynell Begay, suffered severe injuries, but was transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center for treatment and is in stable condition, according to Pierce. She was wearing a seat belt, according to authorities.

A 3-year-old, Kyler Nez, was found uninjured in the vehicle. The child was seated in the back seat of the car with only a lap belt, according to the press release.

Pierce said officers initially believed a second child was in the vehicle at the time of the crash, but found that to be false.

The crash remains under investigation, but witnesses told police Shorty was traveling at a high rate of speed and may have been texting, the release states. Officers found a partially completed text that had not been sent on Shorty's cellphone, the release states.

Also, police say Shorty may have been intoxicated at the time of the crash, the release states.

The preliminary investigation indicates Shorty drove into the median, over-corrected and then drove back into the northbound lanes of traffic before hitting a guardrail and rolling the car, according to the press release.