By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
Two pickup trucks collided head-on Monday morning near Saint Vrain on U.S. 60/84, leaving two dead and sending two to the hospital with serious injuries, according to a press release from the New Mexico State Police.
Russell Dwain Downey, 48, and his son, Levi Downey, 19, both of House, died as a result of the accident, police said.
The driver of the westbound vehicle, Gary D. Massey, 49, of Portales, was taken to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock and was in stable and satisfactory condition Monday following surgery, according to hospital officials. The driver of the eastbound vehicle, Susan Downey, 45, of House, was also taken to Covenant, where she was in critical condition Monday night, hospital officials said.
Susan Downey’s vehicle was following a tractor-trailer when a wheel fell off the tractor-trailer and struck Massey’s vehicle, according to the police report. Massey’s vehicle veered into Downey’s lane, according to the police report.
State police officials said the tractor-trailer and driver had been located in Roosevelt County, and the investigation is continuing. State police would not indicate why they were looking for the driver of the tractor-trailer.
Family friend Bill Runyan said he had known Russell Dwain Downey for many years, and Levi Downey had worked for him on his farm.
“Dwain was always ready and willing when you need something done,” Runyan said. “He always has a funny story to tell, he liked to tell jokes.”
Runyan said his friend would perform a magic comedy act to entertain friends and family.
“He had a little bag put together full of funny things,” he said. “(It was) goofy stuff that would make people laugh.”
Levi Downey graduated as valedictorian of House High School and was a member of Future Farmers of America. He had returned Sunday night from Louisville, Ky., where he received an award.
“In order to do his duties, he would make visits to every FFA chapter in the state,” Runyan said. “He was quite the popular young man.”
Dwain Downey’s aunt, Jo Hughes, remembered her nephew as a friendly man who never met a stranger.
“He always had a joke,” she said. “He just always was friendly. He had a way about him that he could really talk to other people.”