Motorist killed in crash on icy US 550

Steve Garrison
New Mexico State Police respond to an accident on U.S. Highway 550 south of Bloomfield on Wednesday. Icy roads contributed to multiple accidents along the highway, causing injuries and one fatality.

FARMINGTON – Icy conditions along U.S. Highway 550 south of Bloomfield contributed to multiple accidents Wednesday, including one that claimed a life.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation said in an advisory posted shortly before 7 a.m. that the highway was snow packed and icy between mile marker 105 and mile marker 148. Intermittent snow and windy conditions also caused limited visibility on the roadway, according to the advisory.

Two vehicle rollovers in that corridor were reported to the San Juan County Communications Authority early Wednesday morning, and another accident was reported shortly before noon.

A tractor-trailer slid off the road Wednesday near mile marker 128 on U.S. Highway 550, about 11 miles south of the Hilltop Giant gas station. Police say one person was killed and two others injured in one of multiple accidents along the highway.

The late-morning accident, which caused injuries and the fatality, was at mile marker 128, about 11 miles south of the Hilltop Giant gas station, according to New Mexico State Police Sgt. Chad Pierce.

By 1 p.m., traffic at mile marker 128 was reduced to two lanes. A tractor-trailer with significant front-end damage rested in a ditch alongside the northbound lane, and a mangled brass-colored car sat in the center lane of traffic.

Emergency responders walked along  U.S. Highway 550 on Wednesday where icy driving conditions contributed to numerous accidents. Police reported one fatality near mile marker 128, about 11 miles south of Hilltop Giant gas station.

About a half dozen state police and multiple San Juan County firefighters were at the scene, which was covered in confetti-colored detritus, including a pink backpack and about a dozen red plastic party cups.

Pierce said Wednesday night the driver of the car was killed and a passenger was injured. The driver of the tractor-trailer was also injured in the crash.

A tractor-trailer rollover reported at approximately 4:30 a.m. caused all four lanes of traffic on the highway near the 144 mile marker to be shut down. A passenger vehicle rollover was reported at approximately 10 a.m. near the 138 mile marker.

No injuries were reported in either of those crashes.

Clay Anderson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said there is a 20 percent chance of precipitation in San Juan County today and a 40 percent chance tonight.

Debris was strewn across the highway Wednesday where a fatal accident occurred near mile marker 128 on U.S. Highway 550, about 11 miles south of Hilltop Giant gas station.

There is a 60 percent chance of precipitation on Christmas Day, according  to Anderson.

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