Delbert Sours holds the cell phone that was in the truck as the truck, along with Christmas presents, was stolen while he tried to help an injured motorist near his home. Authorities used his cell phone to track his truck. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth
By Darrell Todd Maurina
Delbert Sours has his pickup truck back and his wife has her Christmas present of diamond earrings, thanks to a cell phone Sours left in his pickup when it was stolen on Christmas Eve.
“We’re all really happy,” Sours said. “We were just hoping to get the vehicle back, we didn’t expect to find anything still in it.”
The adventure started Christmas Eve.
Sours had planned to spend a relaxing Christmas Eve at home with his family at their ranch near Pleasant Hill when he heard a loud crash about 9:30 Wednesday evening. When he went outside to investigate, he found a wrecked GMC van that state police later determined had rolled six times.
One person in the van was critically injured, another had suffered broken legs, and a third was up and walking around. While those at the scene were working to help the injured occupants, the third person took Sours’ pickup and fled the area.
All of Sours’ tools, a Christmas gift he’d hidden from his wife, and a cell phone were taken along with the truck.
Officer Al Quintero of the New Mexico State Police said law enforcement agencies traced the pickup by tracking signals emitted by Sours’ cell phone, and found it abandoned Friday afternoon in the Comfort Inn parking lot on Mabry Drive in Clovis.
Quintero said the driver did not check into the hotel and police aren’t certain if he abandoned the pickup there and walked away or whether he was picked up at the hotel by another driver.
Quintero credited Emmitt Sparks, a former state police officer who now works for ENMR Plateau, with tracing the signal that led to locating the pickup. Quintero said Sparks was able to narrow the vehicle’s location down not just to Clovis but to a general area within the city; officers, Sours and Sparks then drove around to see if they could find it.
“They said it would be between Main and Norris streets and somewhere near the railroad. They were able to get that close,” Sours said. “I never dreamed they could pinpoint it that close; it’s amazing what they can do these days.”
Sours’ wife Bethany said she’ll never forget this year’s Christmas.
“It was a hard Christmas day, but when they told us they found the pickup it was like a weight was lifted off of us,” she said. “You just have to thank God, this was a miracle.”
While the pickup and his contents had been found, Quintero said officers still hadn’t found the driver and didn’t know the names of the two people who were with him. Both were still hospitalized in Lubbock Saturday; Quintero said one was too injured to communicate and the other wouldn’t identify himself.
Determining their identities has proven challenging, Quintero said.
“I’ve been in contact with both the Friona and Bovina police departments because we think they were either living or working in that area,” Quintero said. “Hopefully we can gather up a suspect.”
Quintero said he remains optimistic the driver — a Hispanic male with black hair, a small ponytail, and facial hair — will be found.
“After coming into contact with the vehicle here it gives me a little bit of hope that he is still in this area,” Quintero said. “I had thought he might already be in Mexico by now.”