Elderly Belen man dies in two-vehicle crash on Interstate 25; cause unknown

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An 87-year-old Belen man died as a result of a two-vehicle crash along Interstate 25 on Monday morning.

The man, Thomas Leyba, was driving a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer and veered into the left lane as he was traveling northbound near Mile Marker 203 at about 10:15 a.m., according to Los Lunas Police Lt. Naithan Gurule.

Gurule said the Trailblazer hit a Pontiac that was traveling in the same direction that morning. Leyba died at the scene.

The driver of the Pontiac, Craig Vigil, 24, of Pecos, was flown to an Albuquerque hospital. The passenger of the Pontiac, Frank Garcia, of Santa Fe, was transported by ambulance. The two men were coming back from visiting friends at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Both men were treated and released.

Gurule said he is not sure if Leyba had a medical incident at the time of the crash. Police are waiting for a report from the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator to determine how he died.

Northbound lanes of I-25 from Mile Marker 195 to the Los Lunas interchange were shut down until 2 p.m.

The lieutenant said high speeds can factor into crashes.

"When the speed limit is 75 mph, it takes some distance to stop a vehicle," Gurule said. "The higher the speed, a greater distance is needed to stop."


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.