Española Police Department Lt. Richard Trujillo on Jan. 4 witnessed Juan Sanchez, 76, Hernandez, driving north in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 84/285.
Since it was outside the city, he contacted central dispatch, which in turn sent Deputy Cedric Patterson to handle the call. Two witnesses also saw Sanchez driving on the wrong side of the four-lane road. One had called New Mexico State Police, the other called 911.
When Patterson arrived, he found Sanchez sitting on the curb, handcuffed. Trujillo told Patterson that Sanchez’s vehicle came to rest on an embankment and that there was no vehicle crash.
Sanchez told Patterson he had taken some medication the Veterans Hospital had given to him and maybe he took too much.
Deputy Leon Gallegos took over the investigation because Patterson is not qualified to conduct standardized field sobriety tests.
Gallegos asked Sanchez what happened. Sanchez told the deputies he went to Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative to pay his electric bill and was returning home.
Gallegos asked where he lived and Sanchez said, “back there” indicating somewhere in Hernandez. Gallegos verified the address on Sanchez’s driver’s license and told Sanchez he had passed his house. Medics arrived and check Sanchez. They told Gallegos and Patterson that Sanchez was fine.
Gallegos asked Sanchez if he had someone to come get him and his car. He said he only had his son but deputies could not find his son. Deputies took Sanchez home and his car was towed.