WASHINGTON COUNTY (KNWA/KFTA) — Three family members from Arkansas were killed in a vehicle accident in New Mexico — they were on a road trip to California.

On Friday, June 25, 2021, at around 10:30 p.m., the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), based out of Gallup New Mexico, was dispatched to the 63-mile marker of Interstate 40 westbound, about 40 miles east of Gallup.

The call was for a multiple-vehicle collision with injuries and possible fatalities.

Five vehicles were involved in the collision, two semi-trucks, and three passenger vehicles, according to deputies who were at the scene.

Although the investigation is still ongoing, it is believed the driver of a semi-truck (not being identified at this time) was approaching a traffic backup due to a collision being handled in the construction zone ahead, according to the MCSO statement.

According to the MCSO, the driver of the truck failed to slow down for slow-moving traffic. The semi-driver collided with the back end of a passenger vehicle, killing all three occupants. The passenger car was pushed into the back of a minivan causing injury to the passengers inside. The minivan was then pushed into another passenger car and then glanced off the front of another semi-truck before coming to a stop.

The first passenger car and minivan passengers were families traveling together. “Out of respect for the family, the names of those deceased are not being released by our agency at this time,” according to the MCSO.

MCSO is working with New Mexico State Police to execute warrants on the speed of the vehicles for their Event Data Recorders (EDRs), also known as “black boxes.” The information will likely determine the speeds at the time of the collision.

“The Sheriff’s Office is investigating this collision as a vehicular homicide case, and after the completion of the investigation, we will meet with the District Attorney’s office to discuss charges, if applicable,” said Undersheriff James Maiorano III, with the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office, “

The Sheriff’s Office is committed to determining the fault of this tragic collision and taking the appropriate action on those responsible. 

McKinley County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff James Maiorano III