charged with aggravated assault in dispute with bicyclists
—JEFF RADFORD, Corrales
A Corrales resident charged with aggravated assault with a deadly
weapon after a confrontation with bicycle riders along Loma Larga
is anxious to get his day in court.
“There are some facts about the sequence
of events that are not yet apparent,” Stephen Densford said
in a statement for the Corrales Comment newspaper. “The
restraints of the legal system, and advice of counsel, limit my
ability to defend myself in this publication.
“Suffice it to say, that I am most grateful
that the bicycle riders are okay.”
According to a Corrales police incident report,
Densford had difficulty trying to pass a line of side-by-side bicycle
riders. After he passed, he pulled his van over toward the curb,
obstructing the road for the cyclists. The report indicated Densford
intended to complain to the cyclists about causing him to have a
near-accident with on-coming traffic as he passed.
To avoid crashing into the stopped van, the
bike riders “attempted to take evasive action and crashed
into one another with several riders being thrown to the ground,”
according to the police report.
“One victim, identified as Sarah Sturm,
lost control of her bike while attempting to avoid a collision,
and was thrown to the pavement. The victim had lacerations to her
left hip, side, and leg.
“At this time a verbal dispute occurred
between the “victims and the suspect. All riders concurred
that this was an intentional act to cause bodily injury to the cyclists.”
When Police Officer Michael Shelby arrived
at what was reported as a fight in progress, he arrested the driver
of the van.
Prosecution will come in Sandoval County Magistrate
Court under Judge Delilah Montoya Baca as Case No. M-45-FR-2007-00122.
No court date had been set as of March 5.
“I hope some goodwill comes from this.
I, for one, have had a personal transformation in my driving awareness.
Most importantly, that it is incumbent on all of us motorists and
cyclists alike, to share the road,” Densford said. “It
will be great if the rules of the road for Corrales concerning bicyclists
were published widely.”
According to the police report, when Office
Shelby arrived, he “observed eight bicycles lying on the ground
behind the van. There were visible skid marks caused by the van
braking into the bike lane. At this time I met with Roy Sturm who
was identified as the leader of the group of cyclists. Mr. Sturm
stated that he along with the other cyclists were traveling southbound
on Loma Larga in a 2x2 formation in the bike lane. He observed a
green van attempt to pass the group of bicycles and almost caused
an accident with a northbound vehicle.”
The report continued, “The driver of
the van became angry and aggressive and passed the bicycles. Upon
passing the bicycles the driver made a hard right turn in front
of the bicycles and slammed on his brakes. Due to the distance between
the vehicle and the bicycles being very close, the riders attempted
to take evasive action and crashed into one another....”
The officer reported that he contacted the
van driver. “The suspect stated he was angry and stopped to
give the bicycle riders a piece of his mind. Due to the placement
of the vehicle and bicycles, the skid marks and statements made
by the victims and the driver of the van, I placed the suspect under
arrest for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, to wit: a motor
The incident has generated considerable community
discussion. One of Corrales’s most visible bike riders, artist
Sandy Gold, spoke at the February 27 Village Council meeting saying
publicity about the case had boosted Corrales’s reputation
as a community that cares about the safety of cyclists. “Corrales
has a reputation now of being very supportive of bike riders,”
But a different perspective was also presented
at the same council meeting. Former Village Council candidate Harold
Seslar commented, “I’m sorry to hear that a motorist
became angry at bikers in Corrales, but I myself have endured a
finger-salute from many bicyclists, and one group almost caused
me to have an accident.
“It appears that Corrales police are
not pursuing road laws that require bikers to stop at stop signs.”
It has been reported that Sturm, president
of the Rio Cycling Club and a cycling instructor, was leading a
split-off group of nine through Rio Rancho and Corrales when the
incident occurred. The group ride began with 17 members riding from
Albuquerque to Bernalillo and back.
Corrales Comment asked Corrales Police Chief
Ray Vigil to clarify the rules for bikes and bike lanes. He said
cyclists do not have to stay inside the striped bike lane, but cannot
ride more than three abreast.
“We’d rather they stay completely
within the bike lane, but they can be in the middle of the road.
If I see a cyclist in the middle of the road, I will stop and advise
them to stay as close to the bike lane as possible.”
Vigil said the rule for passing cyclists is
the same for any other vehicle. “If you can pass them safely,
there’s no reason you shouldn’t do it.”
This article was reprinted with permission from
the Corrales Comment, March
Landmark DWI campaign produced by Native Americans
Vaughn Wedeen Creative has joined with a “dream team”
of Native American actors and filmmakers to produce a groundbreaking
anti-DWI TV campaign as part of Governor Bill Richardson’s
“You Drink, You Drive, You Lose” campaign.
“We are pulling out all the stops on fighting DWI in New
Mexico. That includes helping our tribal neighbors [to] combat drunk
driving and make their communities safer,” said Richardson,
who has made the fight against DWI a centerpiece of his administration.
In a related initiative, Richardson appointed G. Michelle Brown-Yazzie
as tribal DWI Coordinator for the Department of Transportation,
which commissioned the spots.
According to Brown-Yazzie, there is a need for greater awareness
because Native Americans are disproportionately represented in highway
fatality statistics. “In 2005, there were 194 driving while
intoxicated-related deaths in New Mexico, and twenty-five percent
of those were in Indian Country,” says Brown-Yazzie (Navajo/Oglala
Sioux/Salish-Kootenai). ‘’Native Americans die at a
2-3 times higher rate due to DWI than any other ethnicity,”
Brown-Yazzie continues. The TV commercial encourages Native communities
to unite to stop the drunken driving epidemic.
Loni Anderson (Apache), the PSA’s creative director, formed
what he called the ‘’Indian dream team” after
he and producer Akash Khokha sent a copy of the script to Chris
Eyre, the director of ‘’Smoke Signals,’’
‘’Skinwalkers,’’ and other popular Native
films. Eyre arrived in New Mexico a week before the December shoot
to scout locations. The team also asked accomplished Native actor
Gary Farmer, who lives in Santa Fe, to star. ‘’To have
Gary in it was a real pleasure because he’s someone that’s
looked up to as an actor and as a person in our Indian community,’’
Eyre said. Many talented Native actors from pueblos and reservations
around New Mexico also participated in the spot.
To see the video, visit www.vwc.com/nmdot_nativeamerican/community.mov.