LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A Las Cruces mother and her son are dead after a crash on Highway 70 in Las Cruces on Wednesday. Another woman was airlifted to University Medical Center in El Paso.
Las Cruces Police spokesman Dan Trujillo told our New Mexico Mobile Newsroom this is the sixth fatal crash on Highway 70 this year.
Trujillo said the crash occurred shortly after 8 a.m. on Highway 70 just east of the Sonoma Ranch overpass.
He said a 21-year-old woman from Las Cruces was driving a red Isuzu Rodeo westbound on Highway 70 when, for some reason, she crossed the center divide and struck a four-door sedan traveling eastbound.
Keian Padilla, 15, and his 35-year-old mother, Marcia Parra, were in the sedan. They both died at the scene.
Padilla was a sophomore at Oñate High School.
The entire roof of the sedan was ripped off during the collision. The Rodeo rolled over onto Bataan Memorial East and the driver was thrown from the car.
She was initially transported to a Las Cruces hospital and then airlifted to University Medical Center of El Paso.
A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation said construction of safety features on Highway 70 will begin next year. This includes slope flattening, placement of pavement within the medians, guard-rail extensions at the bridges, and installing cable barrier from the Rinconada Exit to the NASA Exit.
The section of road where the crash happened does not have any barrier in the median.
That's something people in the area said should have been put in a long time ago.
"We've seen lots of near-misses but also lots of horrible accidents. We're getting accustomed to hearing the sirens," said Joe Sanchez, who lives just off of Highway 70.
Sanchez said he's lived there for about two years now.
"We've seen at least 12 accidents and some real bad, some not. The worst ones, probably six of them, have been horrible accidents that people have been killed," Sanchez told ABC-7.
Sanchez and other Las Crucens feel lives could be saved with a stronger barrier in the median.
"Anytime you have some type of barrier to prevent a vehicle from crossing over, obviously that should be very significant. Depending on, of course, the speed of the vehicle, just maybe slow it down," said Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima.
"Something needs to be done, because when you hit speeds of 65 mph coming down that area you're going to have a problem. When someone loses control there's nothing to protect drivers coming the other way," said WIlliam Bova, who lives near the scene of the crash.
Until those barriers are put in place, some who live in the area said they drive cautiously on that road to avoid being involved in crashes like this one.
"I have a motorcycle so I'm very careful about myself coming down through there," said William Bova.
"I'm getting used to it, and I'll be honest with you I'm afraid to get on 70. I go down Sonoma Ranch when I want to go to Sam's because I want to eliminate 70. It's too dangerous," said Sanchez.
Mayor Miyagishima said both Las Cruces Police and the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office have had more officers have had more officers patrolling Highway 70.
The investigation is still ongoing to determine what caused the crash.