A Cordova man couldn’t have picked a worse time or place to run a stop sign, which resulted in him colliding with an Española Police officer.
Johnny Sandoval, 45, Cordova was arrested the night of Dec. 3 and initially charged with reckless driving under the influence of medication/drugs/alcohol.
Because the accident involved a police officer, the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation.
Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Andres Sanchez worked as primary on the accident investigation with Deputies Jerry Albo and Joseph Cannon.
Sanchez states in his incident report that he arrived at the scene about 7:15 p.m. and spoke to Cannon.
Cannon relayed to Sanchez that Officer James Haught had been sitting in front of the Española Valley High School on El Llano Road running stationary radar when Sandoval, driving a Ford F-350 truck hit him head-on.
“I observed that both vehicles were smashed together front end to front end, in result (sic) of the head on collision,” he wrote. “Airbags on both the patrol unit and on the truck that was involved had been deployed.”
Haught had already been transported to the Española Hospital Emergency Room when Sanchez came on scene.
He spoke to Haught at the emergency room later in the evening. Sanchez wrote that Haught told him he was parked near the gate of the High School running stationary radar. He was looking at his phone when he heard a vehicle approaching. He looked up and saw the truck coming east on Fairview Lane, straight at him.
“Officer Haught stated that he believes that the vehicle was traveling approximately 70 miles per hour or faster when the vehicle collided into his unit head on,” Sanchez wrote.
Haught told Sanchez he got out of the patrol unit and drew his duty weapon on Sandoval as he got out of his truck.
“Officer Haught stated that Johnny asked him if he was OK, Officer Haught stated he told Johnny that he was not OK and to call 911 immediately,” Sanchez wrote.
The E-911 dispatch log states Haught suffered lacerations to his head and face and a broken ankle.
Española Police Chief Roger Jimenez said Dec. 11 that Haught has had one surgery on his ankle and that he’s visited Haught several times in the hospital. He was due for a second surgery Tuesday.
“He’s doing good but has a long road back,” Jimenez said.
Deputy James Mayers spoke with Sandoval on the scene and administered the field sobriety test. His report describes Sandoval’s failure in detail. He was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When Mayers patted down Sandoval he found a small white plastic package that Sandoval said he picked up at the ATM. Mayers also found a bottle of Oxycodone, prescribed to Sandoval. Sandoval also had in his pocket a small white container that had acetaminophen and hydrocodone bitartrate.
He agreed to submit to a Breathalyzer test. After the standard 20 minute deprivation period, at the Sheriff’s Office Sandoval blew .00 and .00.
At the emergency room after speaking to Haught, Sanchez went down the emergency room hall and spoke to Sandoval, whose injuries are not stated in the incident report.
Sandoval told Sanchez he remembered going to an ATM machine at an undisclosed location and then was turning home. He remembered turning east on Fairview Lane and not much else, and, “Then a lot of commotion.”
Sandoval said he is a diabetic and believed he had a diabetic episode.
At the scene Albo and Sanchez went through Sandoval’s truck and found a prescription bottle of Gabapentin, four sublingual films of Buprenorphine and Naloxone (of varying doses). Gabapentin is used with other medications to prevent and control seizures, according to WebMD. Buprenorphine is an opioid and Naloxone (Narcan) is used to reverse the effects of opioids.
They also found a Weatherby Vanguard rifle hidden behind the guard’s shed by the High School. Sandoval’s wife Melanie Fordham identified it as his.
Sandoval’s wife had arrived at the crash and asked to retrieve some items from the truck. Sanchez told her she could after their investigation was complete. She removed some black bags, tools, a car jack and bike ramps.
Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Tager filed a criminal information Dec. 3 in First Judicial District Court. The document charges Sandoval with aggravated driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, aggravated battery upon a peace officer, possession of a controlled substance (Hydrocodone), receipt, transportation or possession of a firearm, tampering with evidence, negligent use of a firearm (possession while intoxicated), driving while license revoked (DWI related) and reckless driving.
Sandoval has three prior convictions for DWI/DUI in 2007, 2009 and 2011. He has two earlier misdemeanor DWI charges that were dismissed. He was also convicted twice of assault against a household member and false imprisonment in 2011 and 2012.
Sandoval was in front of Rio Arriba Magistrate Judge Joseph Madrid in June for driving on revoked license (DWI related), failure to register his vehicle and no proof of insurance.