DA seeks witnesses

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Probe > Investigators still looking into fatal N.M. 4 collision

By John Severance

The Santa Fe County District Attorney’s office is continuing its investigation into the deadly N.M. 4 crash that took the life of Los Alamos teenager Nik Ventura Arencon and seriously injured his girlfriend Divine Fellers, Nov. 21.

The DA is also looking for witnesses in the crash that injured both drivers — Jennifer Ventura-Trujillo of White Rock and Dennis Bernal of Santa Fe. Both drivers work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In an email, Ventura-Trujillo talked about a woman who helped her right after the crash. The woman has not been located by the DA’s office.

“The lady was holding my hand and talking to me while we were waiting for the paramedics. I believe she had brown hair and a blue sweater on,” Ventura-Trujillo said.

“She must have been two or three cars behind Bernal. All I know about the black car is the color and what various witnesses have said. It was ahead of me on the other side on the curve and swerved to avoid being hit prior to him coming around the curve.”

The DA’s office had plans to talk to Jose Archuleta, who was driving behind Ventura-Trujillo. Archuleta recounted the accident for an article that published in the Los Alamos Monitor back in December.

“I saw the truck flipping through the air in front of me. It just went across the road,” Archuleta said. “I immediately put my flashers on.

“I got on the phone and called 911 and I ran to the driver of the truck who immediately got out. He was intercepted by a couple of other women and myself. We had him sit down and he kept repeating, ‘I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what happened.’ ”

Bernal was cited for careless driving but that charge was dropped by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department, according to Lt. Joseph McLaughlin.

A statement of probable cause and an eyewitness account of the crash do reveal more details about what happened that Nov. 21 afternoon.

Bernal, driving a 2001 Toyota Tundra, was attempting to negotiate a right curve at the location, he alleges that he suffered a coughing spell and became dizzy. The report said as a result, Bernal lost control of his truck, allowing it to cross left of the double center divide line on N.M. 4 near mile marker 67.

The left front bumper of Bernal’s vehicle struck the left side of the 2009 Honda Accord driven by Jennifer Ventura-Trujillo, who had her son Nikolas Ventura-Arencon, 14, sitting in the left rear passenger seat and Divine Fellers, 13, sitting in the center rear passenger seat.

The report does not make mention of whether the two teens were wearing seat belts.

The report states that as a result of the impact, both vehicles rotated counter-clockwise and left the roadway on the west side.

Bernal was transported to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center where he was treated for a neck sprain, left ankle sprain and left foot contusion. Ventura-Trujillo was transported to Los Alamos Medical Center where she was treated and released for her injuries.

Fellers spent close to three weeks at UNM Hospital in Albuquerque before being released after suffering a broken pelvis and she also had her spleen removed. Fellers has since returned to classes at Los Alamos Middle School.

Anyone who may have witnessed the accident can contact the DA’s office at 505-827-5000.