A mother of three small children died Thursday afternoon when the pickup truck she was in collided head-on with a semi-tractor trailer in Los Lunas.
Dana Moya, 29, of Los Lunas was with her three children, Toby Chavez Jr., 2, Mariah, 5, Sheniah, 6, and the children’s father, Toby Chavez Sr., 24, when the collision occurred.
Chavez Sr., who was driving, has been charged with vehicular homicide, aggravated DUI, child abuse and reckless driving.
New Mexico State Police Officer Jeff Davis said 54-year-old Carl Sower of Belen was driving a 1998 blue Freightliner rig southbound on NM 263 (El Cerro Loop) when he slowed down to turn onto Sandhill Road.
“He (Sower) told me a truck came out of nowhere and that the guy was going at least 90 miles an hour,” Davis said. “The driver of the pickup truck locked his breaks and skidded about 75 feet before crashing head-on into the tractor trailer.”
Davis said there is a sharp curve on the stretch of road where the collision occurred.
“She sacrificed her life for her kids even before they got into the accident,” Davis said. “She put seatbelts on all of the kids before they set out. She was the only one not wearing a seatbelt.”
The two girls were sharing one seatbelt while the two-year-old boy was in a lap belt, Davis said. When officers and paramedics arrived on scene, Toby Chavez Jr. had already been transported to the hospital by ambulance.
Moya, who was sitting in between her son and two daughters, had hit her head on the windshield, Davis said. Chavez Sr., Moya and the two other girls had to be extracted from the pickup truck.
“The mother had a broken neck and brain injuries,” Davis said. “She was pronounced dead on scene.”
The six-year-old girl was airlifted by Lifeguard helicopter to UNM-H in Albuquerque while her sister and father were taken by ambulance.
Toby Chavez Jr. is currently listed in critical condition, with head and chest injuries. His sisters and father received minor head and chest injuries.
Sower, who was not injured, was also taken to the hospital by ambulance for observation for high blood pressure.
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.