UNM student killed in car crash days after graduation

Posted at: 05/14/2013 7:02 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4


A UNM student was killed, only two days after graduating.

Christian Gurule, 24, was hit by a pickup truck at Coors and Pajarito Monday, deputies said.

The driver, Anthony Chavez, told deputies he had dropped his cell phone, and reached down to grab it right before the crash.

That crash is a perfect example of what can happen when drivers are not paying attention.  Whether that is talking, texting, just doing anything with a cell phone while behind the wheel, it is a distraction that deputies say could ultimately kill you or someone else.

No matter how fast or slow you are going, you don't have to look too hard to find drivers doing anything but what they should be doing.

"Half the time when I've had a close call, someone's on their phone," Victor Herring, who rides a motorcycle, said.  "That's all it is, they're just sitting there texting or they're talking."

His story is not unique.

"About six years ago, I got totaled by a 17-year-old in a hot-rod Toyota," Rod Matto, another driver, said.  "He was on his cell phone and ran the red light and plowed right into my front."

The city ordinance makes it illegal to talk or text while driving.

In the county, Sgt. Aaron Williamson said, it is not as specific but deputies can ticket drivers for anything categorized as "careless driving."

"As soon as they see a cop, they'll throw that phone over into the passenger seat and pretend they weren't on it, but as far as being able to pull them over and cite them, it's not difficult, because generally talking on the phone is going to lead to other improper driving behavior," Williamson said.

"It only takes like two seconds of not paying attention, then all of a sudden you're like flat on the asphalt and that's no good," Herring said.

If a driver is pulled over and cited for careless driving in the county, it is a mandatory court appearance and a minimum $69 fine.  The price increases from there depending on what the driver is caught doing.