Police are hoping the person involved in a hit-and-run crash that killed a Tomé woman walking on NM 47 Friday night will come forward and explain what happened.
Helen Gutierrez, 37, died early Saturday at the University of New Mexico Hospital from the injuries she sustained the night before.
Gutierrez, who was described by police as a single mother of three children, had reportedly been walking on the dark highway about 11 p.m. Friday when she was hit from behind.
Valencia County Sheriff’s Detective Rene Rivera said the incident occurred near Marquez Road, up the street from Gutierrez’s home.
“A witness who had been driving behind the suspect’s vehicle said, before they stopped to help the victim, they saw what happened and immediately flashed the headlights to alert the driver of the other car,” Rivera said. “After he struck the victim from behind, he reportedly slowed down and re-accelerated northbound on Highway 47.”
Rivera described the vehicle involved in the crash as possibly a light-colored late 1980s model Chrysler Grand Fury with a broken right taillight. Rivera said the vehicle probably has extensive front-end damage.
“We have another witness who saw the victim, shortly before the accident, crying on the side of the road,” Rivera said. “The witnesses also said they saw a vehicle that pulled over and (its driver) was talking to the victim. A short time later, the witness saw the victim walking away from the vehicle and described it as if she was speed walking.”
The witness reportedly told police he or she didn’t see the driver of the vehicle that stopped but believes it was a man driving a dark blue or green Pontiac Grand Prix.
Rivera said he needs the public’s help in identifying the driver who struck Gutierrez as well as the person who she was seen talking to prior to the crash.
“I have a message to the driver: If it was an accident –instead of leaving everyone to wonder, please come forward and let us know what actually occurred,” he said. “We believe the victim’s family deserves an explanation.
“Whoever did this — for their own sanity — needs to come forward and let us know what occurred,” Rivera said.
Family members declined to comment.
If anyone has any information about this case, call Valencia County Sheriff’s Detective Rene Rivera at 866-2405.
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.