El Paso

EPPD: Passenger in Jeep killed when driver of small SUV runs stop sign, collides with Jeep

Residents say traffic light needed in...

EL PASO, Texas - Police are not yet identifying the 33-year-old female passenger who died after she was ejected from the 2000 Jeep Wrangler she was riding in.

El Paso Police are still investigating the deadly collision reported at around 3:30 pm Wednesday on the 12100 block of Gateway North and Mesquite Hills.

According to investigators, 63-year-old Rosa Mendoza was driving a 2011 Chevrolet Equinox north on Mesquite Hills when Mendoza "failed to stop at the stop sign and struck a 2000 Jeep heading east on Gateway North."

The Jeep rolled as a result of the collision, police said. Its driver, 33-year-old Carlos Villanueva of Chaparral, New Mexico, was injured in the wreck. Villanueva's passenger, a 33-year-old woman, was thrown out of the vehicle and died as a result of the injuries sustained during the collision, police said.

Villanueva and Mendoza were both transported to University Medical Center for treatment of injuries. Police said this is the 53rd fatality of 2017 in El Paso compared to 64 during this same time period in 2016.

Nearby residents ABC-7 spoke with are asking why a traffic light isn't put up at the intersection. 

"This is not the first fatality out here," John Coffield, who lives only blocks away from where the crash happened, told ABC-7. "Talking to the police, the last time I saw an accident they said that one out of three is a fatality here." 

Coffield said his wife, who's in the neighborhood association, has warned the city about the dangers of the intersection. 

"We've been hounding the city for months now to get a light put in this intersection and they haven't done anything yet," he said. 

The area in question is in City Representative Sam Morgan's district. 

Morgan said he checked his records, and has not received any calls from residents to his office about the potential dangers of that particular area. 

"If you're contacting someone and you're not receiving a response it might be because you're not contacting the right department," Morgan said. "What I tell people is when in doubt dial 311 with the city and we'll get you linked up to the right department. But a situation like that should've come through my department and I feel very strongly about that." 

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, US-54 is an interstate highway, so TXDOT maintains it. A resident or city officials can request a traffic light through TXDOT. TXDOT would then do a warrant analysis to see if one is warranted. If it meets a certain criteria, TXDOT would find a way to fund it.

Traffic engineers look at a number of things when determining if a light should be placed at an intersection including the amount of traffic on the street, pedestrian activity, the number of school children crossing the site, the crash history of the site, the size of the community and the speed of traffic approaching the intersection.

Morgan said now that the issue has come to his attention, he will reach out to TXDOT. 

"We will be looking into whether or not we should be placing some lights out there," Morgan said. "I'll get with TXDOT next week when the city and state comes back on board." 

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