• November 15, 2022

Francisco Hinojos Killed in Auto Accident on State Rd 128 near Jal, NM

Jal, NM — November 9, 2022, 18-year-old Francisco Hinojos died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on State Road 128 west of Jal.

Authorities say the incident happened early Wednesday on NM-128 near mile marker 47. Preliminary investigation suggests Hinojos was driving a Ford pickup east on the highway when police believe he crossed over the center line for unknown reasons. The Ford then collided head-on with a westbound Volvo 18-wheeler. After the impact the Volvo hit a second Ford pickup nearby.

Hinojos was pronounced dead at the scene. The Volvo driver received non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to an area hospital. The other Ford pickup's occupants were unhurt.

The investigation continues but impairment is not a suspected factor and all parties are believed to have worn their seatbelts.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Francisco Hinojos Accident near Jal

It's important to keep an open mind and investigate carefully after any crash. Even with something like an alleged crossover wreck where the cause may seem obvious, steps should be taken to ensure all the specifics are clear. Many incidents are far less straightforward than they first appear.

For example, I handled a similar accident not long ago in which a victim was faulted for crossing left of center and crashing with a big rig. Our experts looked again on the victim's behalf, though, and found police actually made a mistake: The truck driver actually drifted left of center first after falling asleep at the wheel. The victim crossed over to avoid the big rig but the truck driver woke up and corrected course at the same time. Police just found the crashed vehicles in the truck's lane and assumed the victim was to blame.

Francisco Hinojos Killed in Auto Accident on State Road 128 near Jal, NM

I'm not suggesting the same thing happened in New Mexico, but even if police are 100% sure who crossed over there's still the question of why. What made him go left of center? Was he distracted by something? Did something unusual happen, like a medical emergency or a vehicle malfunction? Was the road wet or hazardous? Could any other extenuating factors have influenced what happened?

I don't want to overcomplicate things or point fingers. It's just best to keep an open mind during the investigation--by police, and if there are questions left when they wrap up by independent experts as well. At the very least the victim's family deserves to know they have the whole story; anything beyond that would depend on what is learned.

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