Crash kills local teen

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Accident: Head-on collision leaves three others injured

By The Staff

A 14-year-old Los Alamos boy was killed and a 13-year-old Los Alamos girl remains in stable condition at UNM Hospital in Albuquerque with non-life threatening injuries after the car in which they were passengers was involved in a head-on collision on N.M. 4 Wednesday afternoon.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Department Capt. Adan Mendoza confirmed Wednesday night that the fatality was a boy, who was riding in the back seat of a 2009 Honda, driven by Jennifer Ventura-Trujillo, 41, of White Rock.

The driver of the 2001 Toyota pickup truck was Dennis Bernal, 43, of Santa Fe. Mendoza said that Ventura-Trujillo and the 14-year-old boy were related. It is the policy of the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department not to identify victims under the age of 18.

However, an obituary posted by a local funeral home has identified the victim as Nikolas Rian Ventura-Arencón. Information contained there indicates he was a Denver Broncos football fan and played all sports. He enjoyed skateboarding, wake-boarding, snowboarding, riding motorcycles, fishing and camping. Ventura-Arencón was a member of Los Alamos High School ROTC and especially loved shooting and drill competitions.

"He had dreams and ambitions, as he wanted to be in the military and was applying to the New Mexico Military Institute. He liked to spend time at his grandparents land and drive their tractor. He enjoyed working with wood, fixing things and liked cooking for his mother," according to information contained in the obituary. He also aspired to be a firefighter like his father, Diego Arencón who is president of the Albuquerque firefighter's union.

According to members of the community who gathered to pay their respects at the Rock in White Rock Friday, the boy was 14 and his birthday was to be on Dec. 27. Santa Fe Sheriff's Department had said the boy was 13.

The 13-year-old girl riding in the passenger seat of Ventura-Trujillo’s vehicle was airlifted to UNM Hospital. Mendoza said she was still in the hospital as of Friday morning.

Ventura-Trujillo was released from Los Alamos Medical Center and Bernal was released from Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe after being treated for minor injuries.

The accident was between the Truck Route and the turnoff to White Rock. The crash occurred at 2:41 p.m. The Sheriff’s Department listed the location of the crash two-tenths of a mile north of mile marker 67.

According to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s hot sheet, Bernal was traveling north on N.M. 4 attempting to negotiate a right curve. Ventura-Trujillo was traveling south in the outside lane of travel. For reason(s) unknown, Bernal lost control of his vehicle, allowing it to cross the double center divide line. As a result, the front bumper of Bernal’s vehicle struck the left side of Ventura-Trujillo’s vehicle.

Mendoza said that there were no obvious signs of alcohol in the vehicle, but Bernal did submit to a drug screening.

“We are waiting for results on that,” Mendoza said.

N.M. 4 was closed for close to five hours before reopening around 8 p.m. Wednesday, as the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department fatal team conducted its investigation.

Mendoza said there was not a police report available yet.

“The Fatal Team is still working on it and trying to determine where everybody was sitting,” Mendoza said. “We are still investigating and talking to witnesses.”

Los Alamos County Police, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department were on the scene. Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation.

Ventura-Trujillo and Bernal are both listed on the Los Alamos National Laboratory employee directory. The LANL communications office was closed Friday and could not confirm that they were employees. According to her LinkedIn page on the Internet, Ventura-Trujillo lists her occupation as the Operations Support Manager for SOC at LANL.