Family of crash victims seek improvements to dark stretch of road
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The family of 19-year-old Joshua Munoz gathered along the I-40 Frontage Road by Artisco Vista and Central Saturday to remember him. He died there last December.
They were joined by the families of others who have died there too, all hoping to bring some change to the area.
“Why? I ask all the time to God why that happened to my son,” said Sujuy Sanchez, Joshua Munoz’s mother.
Sanchez used to watch her son play sports and enjoy dinner with him. But now, her way of spending time with him is visiting his grave.
“My son, he was so young. I say it all the time, very young and very good kid,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez says Joshua had just started working for the Metropolitan Detention Center.
“It was his third day working for them. He finished the last year of high school too, he was one of the smartest in the school,” Sanchez said.
He died after he crashed his car along the I-40 Frontage Road near Atrisco Vista and Central. Many MDC employees take that road to work every day, and Sanchez argues it’s too dangerous.
She and others gathered Saturday with signs and solar-powered lights to bring awareness to this dark stretch of road. So did Eliana Varela, who lost her dad here too.
Erick Varela and his friend Gustavo Garcia died here last May.
“It was really hard for all of us, broke our family,” said Varela.
She says they were enjoying time together when they pulled over after dark to check their vehicle.
“My father was in between fixing the Can-Am. And unfortunately, they did run him over, he died instantly. He was with his friend Gustavo as well. They both passed away that night,” said Varela.
Memorials now stand where that crash happened. Varela says she lost her best friend that day.
“It’s been really hard me and my dad, and we’re really close. He was my best friend, he was my life. I was his baby girl, his everything and knowing that he’s gone it hurts a lot,” Varela said.
KOB 4 reached out to the county about the MDC lighting project for an update. In a statement, County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada said he’s still very concerned about the safety along this corridor.
He says the road runs through county, city, and state jurisdiction and sorting through that has taken a lot of time.
But the county secured a $2.5 million state grant for the project. Adding, it’s in the early stages of the design process. He also mentioned he’s doing everything he can to speed up the project completion.
Sanchez says they just don’t want anyone else to go through what they have.
“We don’t need any more people to be dead. We don’t need it, we don’t need more families broken,” said Sanchez.
The county says the estimated completion for the project is scheduled for next year.