SUV speeds through New Mexico parade, at least 15 injuries confirmed
GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – At least 15 people, including two police officers, were injured after a 33-year-old drove through a crowd in Gallup, New Mexico, where hundreds of people had gathered on Thursday night to celebrate the Intertribal Ceremonial Parade.
Jeff Kenn Irving, of Gallup, is facing 21 charges in the case, including aggravated DWI, multiple counts of leaving the scene of a crash, driving with a revoked license and more, according to New Mexico State Police. According to a criminal complaint, Irving registered a 0.24 on an alcohol breath test, or three times the state’s legal limit of 0.08.
Multiple witnesses said a tan SUV drove through the parade — right towards performers and children on the parade route — at about 8 p.m. Video of the incident shared to social media shows people screaming and fleeing the path of the SUV, leaving chairs and belongings behind during the chaotic scene.
According to court documents, Irving told police he was behind the wheel of a 1999 Chevy Tahoe, watching the parade, when he “left” the event, traveling east with his two brothers inside the vehicle.
Police said Irving initially claimed he did not have any alcoholic drinks prior to the crash. He later admitted to police he had been drinking, stating he “two cans about two to three hours” prior to the crash. He then told police he drank “a couple beers” three and a half hours prior to the crash.
A criminal complaint indicates a New Mexico State Police officer gave Irving several field sobriety tests after the crash. Police said Irving had trouble balancing and staying in position Irving also told them he has a prosthetic left eye, according to the complaint.
Inside of the car Irving was driving, investigators said they found more than one “open container,” but didn’t state what was in the container. Police also found Irving has one prior DWI conviction.
After the sobriety tests, Irving was placed under arrest and subjected to a breathalyzer test. Officers then took him to the hospital, where his blood was drawn and he was cleared of injuries. He has since been booked in the McKinley County jail.
Spectators at the event said the Intertribal celebration is special to the community, and meant to be a celebration of peace.
Jonathan Nez, the president of the Navajo nation, was in attendance. He said that he and members of his party could have been hit had they not reacted quickly.
“We were in the path of the vehicle. Thank God, the folks that were around me, our team members or council delegates. Were not struck by the vehicle,” said Nez in statement shortly after the incident.
The Gallup Police Department said two of its police officers were among the 15 injured in the crash. Minimal information has been released about the severity of the injuries, but the New Mexico State Police said at least one person suffered what they consider “great bodily harm” while 14 others suffered “personal injuries not resulting in great bodily harm.”