Fri, July 19

Police: One-car fatal accidents rare

The man killed after crashing his SUV into Hobo Joe's Restaurant Friday night is now identified as Luis Martinez of Cottonwood. He was 24 years old.

The accident marks the second one-vehicle high-speed fatal accident within the city within two weeks time. Cottonwood Police Lieutenant Jack Stapleton says such accidents are very rare. He says those are conditions typically found on the open road not within the city. "We don't normally have the speed," Lt. Stapleton said

Stapleton also says police have also been vigilant about drinking and impaired drivers. Grants have allowed saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints involving several agencies during the holiday season

Eyewitnesses assessed Martinez' speed in the 1995 Chevrolet Suburban at up to 80 mph as he drove northbound on 6th Street. Police suspect that speed may have been lower. Stapleton the speed is difficult to determine. He says all the typical indicators used to calculate speed do not exist at the accident scene. He says there were no critical scuffmarks and no braking before the SUV hit the Mingus Avenue restaurant. The vehicle hit the curb on the north side of Mingus Avenue and became airborne over a planter crashing through an archway at Hobo Joe's.

The restaurant suffered significant damage but it was not structural. After closing for cleanup over the weekend, owners Shawna and Dale Randles re-opened for business Monday.

It's believed that Martinez was intoxicated after leaving the Cantina Casador near Sixth Street on Highway 89a. His vehicle was seen "doing donuts" before he sped northbound. Stapleton says results of toxicology tests are needed to determine if Martinez had alcohol or drugs in his system.

Galen Ray Vallejos, 30, and 46-year-old Clifford Raymond Jones were killed when the Isuzu SUV they were in crashed into the Montessori school on Main Street early in the morning of Nov. 30. Alcohol and speed were also factors, according to investigators.