A drunk driver sped through a Native American celebration and injured 15 people Thursday night in western New Mexico.
Jeff Irving, 33, was behind the wheel of an old Chevrolet Tahoe that chaotically sped through the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Centennial Celebration opening parade, state police said.
All 15 injured people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, cops said. Two Gallup police officers were among the injured.
Irving’s blood-alcohol level was 0.24, three times the legal limit, according to police. His license had been suspended or revoked for a previous drunk-driving offense.
“At this time, there is no reason to suspect this crime was motivated by hate,” New Mexico State Police said in a Facebook post.
Police said they noticed Irving and his two brothers drinking in the Tahoe near the parade and approached the vehicle. As the two officers walked up to the group, Irving floored it and sped away. The two officers were injured.
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Irving then drove directly into the parade and made a series of erratic, high-speed decisions that ended with him crashing into a parked car.
Videos showed that children dancing in the street were the first to notice the out of control SUV barreling toward them. As Irving’s Tahoe accelerated through the crowd, chaotic shouts and desperate screams filled the air.
After the crash, officers swarmed Irving’s vehicle and arrested him and his brothers. The two men, both younger than Irving, were taken to Gallup Detox Center.
Irving was charged with 21 crimes: aggravated DWI, accident involving injury/great bodily harm (one count), accident involving personal injuries-not great bodily harm (14 counts), aggravated fleeing, driving with a suspended/revoked license, expired registration and driving without insurance.
The parade is a mostly Navajo celebration that lasts 10 days and is celebrating its 100th year, according to Indian Country Today.
“We’re all shook up,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a Facebook video. “We were in the path of the vehicle. Thank God that folks that were around me, our team members, our council delegates, were not struck by the vehicle and it turned the corner. And from that point on, I don’t know what happened.”
With News Wire Services