Doña Ana County



Doña Ana Sheriff’s Deputies are investigating a pair of weekend crashes that caused the death of one man and sent two others to area hospitals.

DASO Traffic Investigators were called to the 4300 block of Shalem Colony Trail just after 11 p.m. Saturday night regarding a single-vehicle motorcycle crash. Joel Arnold, 47, of Fairacres, was southbound on Shalem Colony Trail on a 2002 Harley Davidson when he drifted off the right side of the roadway after negotiating a slight curve.

Arnold traveled off-road for about 300 feet then applied the brakes and skidded a short distance. Arnold released the brakes during the skid, causing the motorcycle to “high side flip.” Arnold, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown from the motorcycle and slid almost 90 feet.

He was airlifted to Thomason Hospital in El Paso with severe head injuries. He died late Wednesday morning from injuries sustained in the crash. The exact cause of death will not be determined until an examination has been completed by the El Paso County medical examiner.

Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department traffic-crash investigators believe driver error and alcohol were major contributing factors to the crash. There also are indications that Arnold was traveling faster than the posted speed limit.

Shortly after completing the scene investigation for Arnold’s crash, traffic-crash investigators were called to a serious crash site in La Mesa. Patrol deputies responded to a vehicle in an irrigation canal off Esslinger Road.

Patrol deputies found a small pickup in a 15-foot ditch holding about two feet of water. Armando Valles, 18, was pinned beneath the rear of the truck. The deputies took turns holding Valles’ head out of the water and hand dug him out from under the vehicle, pulling him to safety.

Valles and Jesus Beltran, 18, both of La Mesa, were riding in the bed of truck at the time of the accident. Beltran was thrown clear, but he suffered minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to Memorial Medical Center, then later released. Valles was airlifted to Thomason Hospital in El Paso and was released the following day.

Investigators determined the vehicle was traveling too fast while attempting to round a sharp curve in the road. The vehicle slid broadside instead of turning and fell into the irrigation canal. The driver, Nicolas Valles, 18, of La Mesa, admitted he had been going too fast to make the curve in the road. He was arrested for aggravated DWI, careless driving and for allowing hiself to be served alcohol. He was treated at the scene for minor injuries and later booked into the Doña Ana County Detention Center.

Bobby Dominguez, 17, was ejected through the back window of the truck. He complained of minor scrapes and bruising and refused medical treatment. He also claimed ownership of the vehicle. He was cited for allowing himself to be served alcohol. He was released to the custody of his parents.

Traffic investigators determined that speed and alcohol impairment were major contributing factors to the crash. None of the occupants was wearing a seatbelt. Investigators said all four likely would have suffered more serious injuries had the truck not landed in soft vegetation and water.

“These crashes illustrate why it’s very important for drivers to watch their speed, not drink and drive and to consistently use safety equipment such as motorcycle helmets and seat belts,” said Sgt. Michael Kinney of the Sheriff’s Department’s Traffic Division. “The life you save may be your own.”

CONTACT: Sergeant Michael Kinney
DASO Traffic Investigation & Enforcement Division
Office: 505.525.1911