US 550 Deadliest In The State, EPA Had No Rules For Working At Gold King Mine

Jun 12, 2017

New Mexico's US 550 Continues To Be Deadly Major Highway – The Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

Government traffic data shows that highway U.S. 550 in northwestern New Mexico could be the state's deadliest major highway.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports U.S. 550 continued to have a high fatality rate after the state finished widening the highway to four lanes in 2001. The New Mexico portion of U.S. 550 starts at Bernalillo, located north of Albuquerque, and runs through Cedar Hill before reaching Colorado. The highway does not have cable barriers or median barriers.

According to the report, several fatalities on U.S. 550 were caused by vehicles veering into oncoming traffic.

The state Department of Transportation says there was a slight decrease in the number of fatal crashes in 2015 and 2016. They did not say where the decrease was due to safety improvements.

EPA Had No Rules For Working At Risky MinesThe Associated Press

Government investigators say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had no rules for working around old mines when the agency inadvertently triggered a massive spill from a Colorado mine that polluted rivers in three states.

The EPA's Office of Inspector General said Monday the agency started work on safety standards after the spill and expects to finish them this week.

An EPA-led crew was excavating at the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado in 2015 when a debris pile collapsed, releasing 3 million gallons of wastewater tainted with heavy metals into rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Native American tribes in those states were also effected.

State, tribal and federal officials have criticized the EPA for not taking more precautions, such as drilling into the mine to determine how much water was pent up inside.

Police Video Shows Rescue Of Kidnap Victim Bound By ChainsThe Associated Press

Newly released video shows New Mexico police officers stopping a van that was wanted in connection to a Nevada kidnapping and then finding a woman bound by chains in the back of the vehicle.

Video from one of the officer's cameras shows the woman thanking police before being unchained.

Authorities say the woman had been stalked by an ex-boyfriend and his companion and that more than a year of planning went into the January kidnapping.

The suspects — Jack William Morgan and Samuel Brown — have pleaded not guilty to federal kidnapping charges and are awaiting trial in Nevada.

Dash and lapel camera video shows the Jan. 30 traffic stop on Espanola's main street. The woman tells officers that she was dragged from her home.

Trial In New Mexico May Upend State Funding For Education - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

A trial is set to begin Monday that could upend the way New Mexico's public schools are funded.

Parents, school districts and advocacy groups allege that the state's education system isn't meeting its responsibilities for Native American students, low-income students and those learning English as a second language.

The trial in Santa Fe could last two months with testimony from top state officials, national education experts and aggrieved parents.

Education officials under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez say spending is adequate and that new programs help struggling students while holding teachers and school leaders accountable.

Courts in several states are being called upon to shore up funding for public schools.

New Mexico Lt. Gov. Sanchez Leads Trade Mission To ChinaAssociated Press

New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is leading a delegation of local and state leaders on a trade mission to China.

The trip is being sponsored and paid for by the China-United States Exchange Foundation.

Sanchez says New Mexico must expand its efforts to grow and diversify the economy by pursuing other opportunities in the global market.

In 2016, China was New Mexico's third largest export market behind Mexico and Israel at $497 million.

Sanchez said despite the quadrupling of exports to China, there's more New Mexico can do to increase trade and promote Chinese investment in the state.

State officials say this figure represented a 325 percent jump from 2015.

Federal Funds Go To New Mexico Flood Control ProjectsAssociated Press

Flood control and water infrastructure projects around New Mexico will be getting a boost thanks to $13 million in federal funding.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich had requested the money from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a spending bill that funds the federal government through September.

The senators say the money will go toward helping the city of Alamogordo improve safety and prevent flood damage and operations and maintenance on the Jemez Canyon Dam.

A share will also be used for studies that lay the groundwork for new projects as well as efforts to protect communities from pollution resulting from abandoned mines.

Authorities: Off-Duty Border Agent Found Assaulted Near RoadAssociated Press

A Border Patrol agent assigned to the Deming, New Mexico, border patrol station is recovering after authorities say he was assaulted while he was off-duty and was found alongside a road.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release that a motorist found the agent on the side of a road late Friday.

The release said the agent suffered "multiple, serious injuries" to his head, chest and hands. Emergency responders transported him to a hospital where he's listed in stable condition.

Customs and Border Protection says it's working with the FBI, the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office, and the El Paso, Texas, Police Department in the ongoing investigation.

UFC Fighter Holly Holm Plans To 'Let It Flow' In SingaporeAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Former world boxing and UFC women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm is looking to end her three-fight losing streak Sunday when she faces Bethe Correia in an event in Singapore.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Holm will fight Correia June 17 in the UFC Fight Night 111 event. Holm has a 10-3 professional mixed martial arts record, while the 33-year-old Brazilian fighter Correia's record is 10-2-1.

Holm is coming off 2016 losses to Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko and a loss in February to Germaine de Randamie.

She says the outcomes would have been different if she went in with more belief in herself and just let loose, which is her plan against Correia.

In 2015, Holm defeated Ronda Rousey to claim the UFC women's bantamweight title, which Amanda Nunez currently holds claim to.

New Mexico Launches Zika Awareness CampaignAssociated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health is launching a campaign to educate people about Zika.

The focus will be providing information to pregnant women and their partners who may be traveling to areas where the mosquito-borne virus is prevalent.

State officials said Friday that the campaign will include television and radio spots as well as billboards and movie theater advertising.

The virus is currently transmitted in vacation spots that are popular among New Mexicans, including Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Islands, most of Mexico, Central and South America and parts of Asia and Africa.

There have been no reported cases of Zika in New Mexico so far this year. In 2016, there were 10 cases, all of which involved people who were infected abroad and diagnosed after returning home.

Sex-Trafficking Victim Who Dialed 911 Sues Responding PoliceKOB-TV, Associated Press

A woman who called 911 to report she was being held hostage is suing the Albuquerque Police Department and two of its officers on grounds that they did not rescue her when they could have.

KOB-TV reported Friday that the lawsuit claims police failed to adequately investigate after she called for help, which created a situation where her captor then raped her, beat her and shaved her head in retaliation. The woman was a victim of sex trafficking and remained a hostage days after she secretly found a phone and called for help.

She escaped from Tito Fajardo, who has since been imprisoned, by coming up with a plan where Fajardo took her near a sheriff's office. She was then able to run toward deputies and beg for help.

Albuquerque Tops Nation In Stolen CarsAlbuquerque Journal

A national report puts Albuquerque at the No. 1 slot in the country among metropolitan areas for stolen vehicles.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the National Insurance Crime Bureau found there were 1,114 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people in the greater Albuquerque Metropolitan Area in 2016.

Pueblo, Colo., was in the No. 2 spot on the list with 899 thefts per 100,000 people.

The head of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, Shaun Willoughby, blamed low staffing levels in the Albuquerque Police Department. The unit tasked with investigating auto thefts has six detectives and a sergeant.

Mayor Richard Berry said the department plans to hire more officers and his office is working with APD and the district attorney to focus on repeat offenders.