County sues Tomé man, insurance company, for crash with deputy

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Valencia County and its insurance company, New Mexico County Insurance Authority, is suing a Tomé man for damages he allegedly caused when he crashed into a Valencia County sheriff's deputy two years ago.

According to the lawsuit, Ricky Romero was driving his 2005 Ford F250 pickup truck on Feb. 28, 2011, when he struck Valencia County sheriff's deputy Eugene Yazzie's patrol vehicle.

Yazzie, according to the court papers, was traveling east on N.M. 6 with his "full emergency equipment, including lights and sirens," on his way to a burglary call in process. The lawsuit states that fellow deputy John Giron was behind Yazzie, also going to the same call.

The lawsuit claims that Giron "could clearly hear … Yazzie's siren" and saw his lights on. Both vehicles turned onto N.M. 263 in Los Lunas, and stopped at the intersection of N.M. 47.

As Yazzie began to accelerate through the intersection, Giron looked left and saw a white truck "that did not slow down," according to the lawsuit. Yazzie reportedly applied his brakes, and at the same time, the driver of the truck, later identified as Romero, applied his brakes, causing smoke and locking up his tires.

"…Giron observed the truck begin to rotate to the right as it appeared that the front tires had been manipulated to steer the white truck to the right," the lawsuit said. The truck struck the left driver side panel of Yazzie's vehicle.

According to the suit, the truck continued to slide between Yazzie's and Giron's vehicles, coming to a complete stop on private property.

Both drivers were not injured.

When the deputies ran Romero's license plate, it came back to belong to another truck, the lawsuit claims. Romero reportedly told the deputies that he had canceled his insurance because he was going to trade in the truck and the registration expired a month prior.

Romero told the deputies, according to the lawsuit, that he did not see the deputy's vehicles and that he tried to turn out of the way, but it was "too late and he could not avoid striking the police vehicle."

Giron issued traffic citations to Romero for no insurance and expired registration.

According to the lawsuit, the crashed caused damage in the amount of more than $6,454 to Yazzie's unit. The county is asking the court to award them $1,000, while NMCIA is asking for $5,454.


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