State police: No fault in fatal crash

CNJ staff

A New Mexico State Police investigation shows neither driver was at fault in a fatal June 19 head-on collision involving a Clovis fire truck and pickup, Patrolman Lance Bateman said on Sunday.

Bateman said a narrow road, low visibility and an extreme weight difference between vehicles were all factors in the accident.

LaRoy Lockmiller, 64, was killed in the wreck. Clovis firefighter Robert Seno was driving the fire truck, which was responding to a wheat-field fire northwest of Clovis.

The fire truck was heading west on Curry Road 18 when the collision happened, the accident report shows. Bateman estimated the fire truck was probably traveling 25 or 30 mph.

The fire truck was loaded with water and probably weighed more than 45,000 pounds, Bateman said. Three Clovis firefighters were in the truck at the time but none were hurt, Bateman said.

No determination was made if Lockmiller’s GMC pickup truck was moving, but Bateman said heavy damage to the steering column suggests it could have been traveling between 10 and 15 mph at the time of the accident.

At least six fire units from various community fire departments and one from Cannon Air Force Base responded to the grass fire, which took hours to subdue and consumed about 640 acres of land before it could be extinguished.

The fire apparently started near a combine in a wheat field, fire officials said last week. No one was injured in the fire.
Family members said Lockmiller, who owned land just north of the burning wheat field, had gone out to try and help his neighbor.

Fire Chief Ray Westerman said he had not seen the investigation report and declined to comment.