Sunday, June 28, 2009

Santa Feans In Shock as They Mourn 4 DWI Victims

Church bells ringing at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi greeted hundreds of New Mexicans on Sunday night as they gathered at Cathedral Park in Santa Fe. They are grieving the loss of four teens killed early Sunday morning in a car crash on the Old Las Vegas Highway.

"I'm devastated," said Adrian Martinez the brother of Julian Martinez who died at the scene. "My brother meant everything to me."

Crying, friends and family members of the victims, bowed their heads and offered their prayers which were led by Catholic Archdiocese priest Jerome Martinez.
Although their passing away from us was sudden and an unexpected tragedy for the families, we ask you, Lord, to take them and bring them to yourself so they can be joined in the source of all life.
Martinez also asked the crowd to offer forgiveness for suspected DWI driver Scott Owens, 27, who was driving the wrong way near mile marker 5.
We ask for forgiveness for those who made this possible by perhaps their recklessness. And we ask you give us the consolation of your love which is eternal and unconditional.
Owens has one previous DWI conviction in 2001.

The crowd milling around the park offered impromptu comments on their feeling and memories.

"It's a total shook," said Leonna Thomas, 17, with tears streaming from her eyes. She had just seen Kate Klein, a passenger who also died at the scene. "She just got back from piano camp. She was, she is an amazing person."

Thomas said she arrived at the scene moments after Owens Jeep Cherokee broadsided Avree Koffman's maroon Subaru. Thomas said it was eerily quiet, except the sound of a broken car horn blaring in the air. She's upset after seeing Owen's mug shot on broadcast on television news.

"He was smiling," said Thomas. "He's sick. He isn't even showing any remorse."

Candles, crosses and pictures of the victims were laid at the base of a statue in the park. Girls hugged each other and were comforted by boy schoolmates. Parents and teachers were talking softly to each other as they recalled the victim's short lives.

Koffman, 16, the teen driver remains in critical condition at UNM Hospital. Authorities say it appears she swerved to avoid the impact, but it was too late.

Friends of crash victim, Rose Simmons, 15, put up a pink cross and laid out gummi bears for her. 16-year olds Julian Martinez, Alyssa Trouw and Kate Klein were in Koffman's car and all died at the scene. We were told they were headed to El Dorado, New Mexico after midnight after leaving a drive-in restaurant in Santa Fe where they had gathered on Saturday night.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano says Owens was booked into jail after he was released from the hospital, but has not been questioned.

"He appeared to our deputies to be intoxicated, so we will let him sober up, before we talk to him." Solano said Owens will be interviewed on Monday morning.

State Department of Public Safety Spokesman Peter Owens said investigators with the Special Investigation's Unit are involved in the crash survey, but have not determined if Owens had been drinking before the accident or if any liquor containers were found in the debris at the crash scene.

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