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One killed in crash involving school officer

J.R. Oppenheim and Danielle Todesco
May 18, 2017 07:04 AM

LOS LUNAS, N.M. -- A Los Lunas Schools police resource officer's unit collided with another vehicle Tuesday, leaving one person dead.

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The officer was on his way to Valencia Elementary School when the crash happened on Molina Road in Peralta, Los Lunas Schools spokesperson Sidney Olivas said. New Mexico State Police Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo said the officer tried to pass the civilian vehicle in the opposite lane when the civilian turned left into a driveway.

At that point, the officer's cruiser T-boned the driver-side door.

As seen from Chopper 4 video, the civilian car appeared to be a maroon sedan. Both the officer, Alfred Torrez, and the civilian were taken to a hospital, but the civilian died en route. The victim has been identified as 69-year-old Robin A. Arthun of Peralta.

"He had thought that the guy was yielding to him, which you're supposed to yield to emergency vehicles," Bosque Farms Police Department officer Angie Byrd said. "The vehicle slowed down and he attempted to go to the left side of him to pass and he didn't see the officer, the resource officer and he struck him in the side of the vehicle."

Some time Tuesday morning, someone fired a gunshot near Valencia Middle School students while they engaged in community service off campus, Olivas said. The vehicle connected to the shooting was also seen near Valencia Elementary School, prompting the shelter in place.

Torrez was headed to Valencia Elementary School to assist with the shelter in place, Olivas said. According to New Mexico State Police, the crash happened around 11 a.m. near State Road 47.

Witnesses say the family in the red car was likely turning into their home when the crash happened. Arthun was driving with a 17-year-old girl and two young children in the back seat. The two kids were properly restrained in car seats, and the teenage girl had just a cut on her head. 

Neighbor Casey Starr said the man was the only one who appeared to be seriously injured.

"I've seen two hysterical kids, the girl was freaking out," Starr said.  "The man, he was sitting in the middle console for some reason. I don't know if he got launched there or impact or anything like that."

KOB has learned the school resource officer, Torrez, has been in law enforcement for 33 years with no major incidents. He was retired and working for the school district. Torrez was not injured in the crash.

"He is very heartbroken," Byrd said. "He was very upset on scene."

The Valencia County Sheriff's Office tells KOB they have located the vehicle involved in the shooting, a Ford F-250. That pickup truck has been reported as stolen. Deputies say they are actively working to obtain an arrest warrant for the shooter.

Credits

J.R. Oppenheim and Danielle Todesco

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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