An Española woman was in critical condition Tuesday after she drove her vehicle head-on into a pickup truck on the Paseo de Oñate Bridge in Española.
“Two cars went ‘boom,’” Española Police Lt. Christian Lopez said. “It’s what I’d call a classic head-on collision.”
Stephanie Padilla, 30, of Española, was traveling west across the bridge in a white 1999 Pontiac Sunfire around 8:30 a.m. when she veered left across the center line and into a tan 2000 Dodge Dakota pickup truck driven by Dolores Sisneros, 34, of Española, according to Lopez and Española Police officer Ernie Romero.
Padilla’s daughter, 11-month-old Enviah Trujillo, was in a car seat in the back seat of Padilla’s car, Romero said.
Paramedics resuscitated Padilla several times at the scene before she was airlifted to St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, where she spent most of the day in surgery for internal and head injuries, Lopez said. Her daughter was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque for head injuries and was in stable condition Wednesday (3/24) morning, according to police.
The child was bleeding from the mouth when paramedics arrived, but Romero said he thought the blood was from a tooth, not internal injuries. The infant’s car seat was used properly, and she was strapped into the seat until medics cut her out, he said.
Sisneros sustained a scrape and some bruises on her legs, Romero said. She was treated by paramedics at the scene and picked up by her husband, Lopez said.
Lopez said Padilla may have fallen asleep at the wheel while crossing the bridge, causing her to drift into the eastbound lane and collide with the truck, apparently without attempting to stop.
He said no evidence from either vehicle indicated drugs or alcohol were involved. But police will subpoena blood test results from Padilla’s hospital stay and reconstruct both driver’s activities leading up to the accident for more definitive answers, Lopez said.
The bridge remained closed until nearly 1 p.m. while Española police and Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies reconstructed the accident, Romero said.
“I believe she was reaching back or looking back over her right shoulder because of the baby for some reason or another,” Romero said. “When you’re driving and looking right, you tend to veer left.”
Lopez said Sisneros apparently locked her brakes trying to stop when she saw Padilla’s car coming.
Romero said Padilla’s life-threatening injuries were most likely due to her not wearing a seat belt.
“That’s the whole issue there,” Romero said.