Los Lunas

Two firefighters injured, taken by Lifeguard helicopter to hospital

Two Los Lunas volunteer firefighters are in stable condition after a fire engine they were traveling in flipped over and landed on a house Tuesday afternoon.

Luis Chavez, 20, and Matthew Lucero, who turned 30 years old on Tuesday, were on their way to a fire on South Los Lentes Road when the accident occurred. Chavez, who is the son of Los Lunas Fire Chief Lito Chavez, was pinned in the fire engine while Lucero was ejected when the truck flipped.

“The fire truck was responding to a fire scene, and, for some reason, the fire truck hit a guard rail, lost control and left the roadway and overturned,” said Los Lunas Police Lt. Jose Torres. “According to one of the witnesses, one of the members of the fire department was ejected out of the fire truck.

“The driver was pinned inside the fire truck and was extracted. Both were transported by Life-guard helicopter to the Univer-sity of New Mexico Hospital to be evaluated. At this point, both seem to be fine, but this was a precautionary measure.”

The accident is being investigated by the Los Lunas Police accident reconstructionist, Dino Wroten. Torres said no one was inside the house located at 1419 Los Lentes Road when the accident occurred.

Neighbor Carlos Salcido said, in Spanish, which was interpreted by his son, Carlos Jr., that he was outside when the fire truck landed on top of the mobile home.

“I was sitting outside on a table, holding my baby, when I heard the fire trucks coming down the road,” Salcido said. “I saw the truck come in and over the fence and crash into the house.

“I ran with the baby. I didn’t know what to think.”

After Salcido saw the fire truck hit his neighbor’s house, he ran to the scene to see if he could help. “I went to help the man inside the fire truck, but I couldn’t open the door. All I could see was his hand,” he said.

Both Chavez and Lucero are village employees. Chavez is a dispatcher with the police department, while Lucero works at the solid waste department.

A State Police officer was also involved in an accident on the way to the scene. According to State Police Lt. Robert Shilling, Officer Josh Chavez was southbound on Los Lentes Road when he collided with a tow truck.

“I don’t have the nuts and bolts of what actually happened in the accident, but the officer was transported to UNM-H to be checked,” Shilling said.

Shilling said Chavez didn’t have any visible injuries and wasn’t complaining that he was injured. “He went to the hospital as a precautionary measure,” Shilling said.

The condition of the tow truck operator was unknown by press time.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.