The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

Public Safety

Villager charged with aggravated assault in dispute with bicyclists

—JEFF RADFORD, Corrales Comment
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 vehicle.”

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,” she said.

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 10, 2007.


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.

TOP OF PAGE

 

Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town Business  Classifieds Calendar Community Bits  Community Center   Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  The Gauntlet  Community Links  Night Skies  My Wife and Times  Public Safety Sandoval Arts  Schoolbag  Time Off   Word Around Town