New Mexico Drunk Drivers: Predicting the Unpredictable

At 1:30 am on December 14, Kylene Homes left a bar in Santa Fe with a friend. The bouncer saw that Homes was intoxicated. He offered to call a cab. She refused. An hour later, Homes was driving, at a high rate speed, south in the northbound lanes of I-25, just south of Santa Fe. Homes collided with a northbound ambulance. Homes died. Her passenger and the ambulance driver were seriously injured.

The Santa Fe car crash reminded us of the deaths caused by Dana Pabst three years earlier. On November 21, 2007, Pabst was southbound in the northbound lanes of 1-25. Pabst collided with a northbound vehicle that was occupied by 6 family members. The collision killed five of the family and the wrong-way driver, Dana Pabest.

The Homes and Pabst wrong-way crashes recall a notorious Christmas eve tragedy. On December 24, 1992 Gordon House was eastbound in the westbound lanes of 1-40. House collided with a car occupied by five family members. The mother and the three daughters were killed. The father was seriously injured.

Before each New Mexico wrongful death accident, Pabst and House had made u-turns in the median of the interstate. It has not yet been determined how Homes became southbound in the northbound lanes. All three drivers were highly intoxicated. It would appear that the drivers became disoriented and thought that they were driving in the right lane of a regular highway.

While it is impossible to remove blame from these New Mexico drunk drivers, it has also become clear the drunk driving, and specifically drunk drivers making u-turns in this area is all to foreseeable. Perhaps it is time for the State to do more to prevent u-turns in the median and to alert wrong-way drivers they are on a “one-way” road.