As family calls for justice, announcement of charges expected soon

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A grieving New Mexico family is about to find out whether they will get the justice they feel they deserve. The mother and grandmother of a young man who died as a result of a crash last year believe the driver responsible should be in jail. 

21-year-old Mario Tapia died in September two weeks after a crash. Six months later, his mother Barbara Gallegos said she still hasn’t gotten back to living a normal life. 

“He was very compassionate, goofy, funny, loving,” Gallegos said of Tapia. “He would take his shoes off his feet for you, or the shirt off his back.” 

Prosecutors plan to file charges this week against the other driver, according to a District Attorney’s Office spokesperson, but they did not say what those charges may be. 

Police said that driver caused the crash. 

It happened at Rio Grande and Matthew in northwest Albuquerque. The driver, who is in their 50s, wasn’t paying enough attention, officers said. 

They “drifted into the southbound lane,” according to a police report, and they hit Tapia’s motorcycle “head-on.” 

Tapia had his helmet on, his mom said, and police said it was still light outside. That vehicle was only going 20 mph, but the crash was deadly. 

“It’s a living nightmare,” Gallegos said. 

Gallegos and her mother Tina Chavez believe that driver needs to face serious consequences, including spending time in jail. 

“I don’t think that she should get away with it,” Chavez said. 

They are urging everyone to take driving seriously. 

“Life is precious. By not paying attention, you can take somebody from somebody so fast and you don’t even know what you do to other people’s worlds by turning it upside down,” Gallegos said.

 Their hearts are shattered, they said. 

“It’s just been hell,” Chavez said. 

Tapia was taking classes, training to be a car mechanic. 

“His life got cut short, and it’s not fair. It’s hard to deal with,” Gallegos said.