Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials are urging residents on the vast reservation to limit in-person gatherings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus around the holidays. The tribe reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and five more coronavirus-related deaths. The figures bring the total number of cases to 38,898, including 11 cases that belatedly were reported. The death toll is 1,527. Navajo Vice President Myron Lizer says far too many people have contracted COVID-19 because they gather in-person and do not adhere to social distance guidelines or wear a mask. Tribal officials are urging everyone to get vaccinated.
- OIL AND GAS-QUAKES
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Multiple earthquakes were felt earlier this fall in West Texas, leading regulators in that state to designate a seismic response area and call for less wastewater from oil and gas development to be injected in disposal wells. As more seismic activity was reported closer to the state line, officials in New Mexico have been watching closely and gathering data. While Texas limits the injection of produced water, some officials are concerned that could have affects in New Mexico. The Oil Conservation Division in New Mexico is encouraging operators to recycle and reuse water instead of injecting it.
- ALBUQUERQUE-FATAL CRASH
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a 19-year-old Roswell man has been arrested in connection with a multi-vehicle crash in northeast Albuquerque that left one person dead and five others injured. Albuquerque police say Casino Salazar is jailed on suspicion of homicide by vehicle and other charges. Police say the crash occurred around 7 p.m. Saturday and involved three cars and a motorcycle. One person was pronounced dead at the scene. The name, age and hometown of the victim hasn't been released yet. Police say Casino Salazar's SUV allegedly was speeding down a street before crashing into a car with five people inside. Police say they believe Salazar was driving impaired and officers reported finding several containers of alcohol in his vehicle along with guns and marijuana.
- BC-DEFENDANT COLLAPSES-SENTENCING DELAYED
A Gallup man convicted of DWI homicide was hospitalized after collapsing in court minutes before he was to be sentenced, prompting a judge to delay the proceeding but also to order that the man be tested for drugs and alcohol. Matthew Vargas faces up to 15 years in prison for his April conviction for homicide by vehicle involving DWI in a 2017 fatal head-on wreck. The Gallup Independent reports that after Vargas collapsed in the courtroom Friday and complained of pain while being taken to an ambulance, District Judge Robert Aragon postponed the sentencing but said it will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has put on hold several citizen requests that used petition drives to call for convening grand juries to investigate Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's handling of COVID-19. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state high court on Tuesday granted Lujan Grisham's motion for a stay of requests filed in Eddy, Lea and Chaves counties in southeastern New Mexico pending further court filings. Republican legislators and others have criticized Lujan Grisham's imposition of public-health mandates as overly burdensome and infringing on personal freedoms. She has defended them as necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
- PLACE NAMES-DEROGATORY TERMS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has formally declared the word "squaw" to be a derogatory term. She announced Friday that she's taking steps to remove the term from use by the federal government and to replace other existing derogatory place names. Haaland is ordering a federal panel tasked with naming geographic places to implement procedures to remove what she called racist terms from federal use. Haaland says federal lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and shared cultural heritage and that they shouldn't perpetuate legacies of oppression. Haaland is the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. She is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico.
Big Spring, Texas (AP) — The three men killed in a fiery West Texas crash involving a school bus carrying members of a high school band include the band director. Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Justin Baker said Saturday that 53-year-old Andrews High School band director Darin Johns died of injuries from the collision with a pickup truck traveling the wrong way on Interstate 20. Bus driver Marc Elbert Boswell and pickup driver Nathan Haile also died. Baker said the bus was one of three Andrews buses headed to a football game when it was hit by the truck. Two of the 25 students on the bus were hospitalized in critical condition.