According to New Mexico State Police, a Santa Fe man is facing various criminal charges after he allegedly struck and killed a 66-year-old man while driving under the influence.
Jonathan Matthew Lujan, a 22-year-old Santa Fe man, was charged with multiple criminal offenses, including DWI homicide by vehicle; two counts of great bodily harm by vehicle while under the influence; driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs; reckless driving; having no insurance; driving with a revoked license; and possession of an open container.
Officers responded to the fatal crash Friday night on the northbound I-25 just north of Paseo Del Norte Blvd which is north of Albuquerque at roughly 10 pm. Lujan was found by police while kneeling nearby his white 2023 Jeep SUV.
He was complaining about injuries to his whole body according to a criminal complaint filed Saturday in Bernailillo County Metropolitan Court. His Jeep had rear-ended a 2003 Toyota Pickup being driven by Hector Beltran, also of Santa Fe. Mr. Beltran was pronounced dead at the scene.
“This is outrageous, a horrible criminal act,” said Santa Fe car accident attorney Brian S. Colón. “The family of Mr. Beltran deserves our sympathy, our support and for justice to happen quickly.”
Santa Fe Drunk Driving Fatality
This DUI collision may not have been intended, but it was no accident. Lujan chose to drink, chose to drive, and chose to put everyone around him in horrible danger. Mr. Beltran had two passengers in his pickup truck, a 39-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl.
Both of the passengers suffered various injuries, including broken bones, and were transported to Albuquerque’s University of New Mexico Hospital.
When officers spoke with Lujan after the crash, they immediately recognized the tell-tale signs of drunk driving. He had bloodshot, watery eyes and had an “overwhelming” smell of alcohol on his breath. Lujan allegedly denied drinking before he drove.
However, officers found an open can of alcohol in his SUV’s center console. A standardized field sobriety test was not performed on Lujan at the crash site due to his needing medical attention. He did however participate in a blood draw after police obtained a warrant for his blood.
Lujan was first brought to an area hospital but was then booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque at about 9 am. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, both alcohol and the rate of speed Lujan was traveling were contributing factors in the crash.
The crash is still being investigated by state police.
There has been a rash of drunk driving accidents in Santa Fe, many of which led to fatal or near-fatal accidents. In 2020, a suspected drunk driving caused a crash that injured three people. In 2019, a driver was so drunk he crashed through a fence and into law enforcement property.
According to some reports, a person is killed or injured by a drunk driver every 15 minutes. That means four people an hour, 96 people a day, and more than 35,000 people suffer in some way due to a drunk driver’s behavior.
Santa Fe, a relatively low-population area compared to other regions, averages more than 100 alcohol-involved crashes every year. This makes it one of the more dangerous areas in the United States in terms of drunk driving or driving under the influence. While much of the United States have gone down in DUI-related deaths and injuries, New Mexico in general has slowly crept up.
“The next step for the survivors of the crash is to seek proper medical care,” Mr. Colón added. “However, as soon as they are able, they must contact a qualified Santa Fe car accident attorney. This was clearly a wrongful death situation, and Mr. Lujan must be held accountable by the courts for his actions. In addition to criminal proceedings, there is a civil process, and the survivors are absolutely eligible for compensation for their injuries.”