It was a deadly Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend when at least five people died in separate traffic accidents on the streets and highways in the El Paso area.
The series of unrelated traffic accidents began on Friday afternoon when a man was hit by a car while trying to pick up a tarp that had fallen from a truck on the Patriot Freeway. The crashes continued with a fatal single-vehicle collision early Sunday morning in south-central El Paso.
Some names and other information have not yet been made public as the investigation continues.
El Paso has already recorded seven traffic deaths this year, up from two at the same time last year, police said.
Deadly crash on Sunday
Police said the man died at the scene of a one-car accident early Sunday morning on the 6700 block of El Paso Drive behind an oil refinery in south-central El Paso.
Shortly before 2 a.m., Gabriel Gonzalez Rangel, 59, of Lower Valley, was driving a red 2001 Honda CRV eastbound on El Paso Drive when it came right out at a sharp bend in the street, police said.
Police noted that there were no tire marks, indicating that the SUV had collided directly with a guardrail and a concrete barrier on the northern edge of the road. The car then crossed the street and crashed into a stone wall in front of the house.
Gonzalez was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected when he crashed into a guardrail. He died from his injuries, police said. The accident was investigated by a special department for the investigation of traffic accidents.
Accidents on Trans Mountain Road, Sunland Park
Two people riding a motorcycle were taken to hospital with serious injuries after a crash around 1 p.m. Saturday on Trans Mountain Road, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said. The accident was not fatal. The extent of their injuries was not reported.
On Saturday morning, one person was killed in a rollover that caused the vehicle to flip inside a dry irrigation canal in the 5900 block of Crawford Road in Sunland Park, New Mexico, the Sunland Park Fire Department announced on Twitter. No other people were injured in the accident and an investigation is underway.
Pedestrian killed on Border Highway
Before dawn on Saturday, a pedestrian was killed in a collision with the Cesar Chavez Border Highway near Midway Drive in the Lower Valley’s Riverside neighborhood, El Paso police said.
At 4:30 a.m., a group of people were crossing the highway from south to north when one of them was hit by a car that fled the scene, police said.
Police said an unidentified man, identified as “John Doe”, died at El Paso University Medical Center. Investigators are looking for a black car with a damaged front end.
The highway along the Rio Grande is a border crossing point for undocumented migrants. Road signs warn drivers to watch out for unexpected pedestrians.
Anyone with information about a runaway driver can call Police Emergency Services at 915-832-4400 or call Crime Stoppers of El Paso anonymously at 915-566-8477 (TIPS).
Motorcyclist dies in collision on Dyer Street
A man on a motorcycle was killed in a collision with a pickup truck turning left on Dyer Street and Amin Drive. The collision occurred at 8:46 pm Friday in northeast El Paso.
The motorcyclist was driving a black 2006 Honda CBR heading south on Dyer at high speed when a maroon 2016 GMC Sierra heading north on Dyer attempted to turn left onto Amin, police said.
The driver of the pickup truck, 54-year-old Christopher William Martin of northeast El Paso, allegedly failed to yield right of way to the motorcycle, police said. The passenger of the truck was identified as Maria Delourdes Martin, 54, also from the Northeast.
The motorcyclist died at the scene. His name has not been released until next of kin are notified, police said.
The collision occurred in the same Dyer block where a man died and a 15-year-old girl was critically injured on Monday when a Nissan Pathfinder, also turning left, collided with a southbound Ford Focus.
Man dies after grabbing onto fallen tarp on Patriot Highway
Minutes before 1:00 p.m. Friday, a 32-year-old man from northeast El Paso died when he was hit by a car while trying to grab a tarp that fell from a pickup truck on the Patriot Freeway, police said.
Police said a 43-year-old Lower Valley man driving a white 2008 Ford F-250 stopped on the right north lane of US 54 near Fred Wilson Avenue after the tarp partially fell off the bed of the truck, police said.
One of the passengers in the truck got out to pick up the tarp. When the man grabbed the tarp, the 21-year-old man driving a 2016 Volkswagen Jetta swerved to avoid a stopped truck and hit the man as well as the truck’s open door, police said.
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Passers-by and paramedics tried to help the mortally wounded man, who died at the scene, police said.
The northbound Patriot Freeway lanes were closed for several hours Friday night due to an accident investigation.