Ranchos woman arrested after deadly crash on N.M. 68

Eight injured, one dead in three-car pile up

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Eight people were injured and one person died in a  three-vehicle crash Friday evening (Dec. 21) on State Road 68 south of Ranchos de Taos. Three of those injured were children, according to the Taos County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Iesha Loretta Hartt, 25, of Ranchos de Taos on charges related to the crash. Hartt was booked into the Taos Count Detention Center on preliminary charges of homicide by motor vehicle, a third degree felony; great bodily harm by vehicle, a third  degree felony; three counts of abuse of a child,  all fourth degree felonies; and reckless driving. 

All the injured were transported to the emergency room at Holy Cross Medical Center, according to Chris Medina, head of Taos County Emergency Services. 

Investigators with the sheriff's office say it appears Hartt was driving a red, four-door Audi and traveling northbound on State Road 68 around 6 p.m. when she attempted to pass a line of vehicles near the Stakeout Drive intersection.  The preliminary investigation indicates Hartt collided head on  with two other vehicles causing the crash, said Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe in a press release. 

The front seat passenger of the Audi, a relative of Hartt's, was killed in the collision, Hogrefe said in the statement. The passenger has not been named pending notification of family.  Three children in the back seat of the car were seriously injured.

A gold Ford sedan overturned when it was struck by the Audi, and a third vehicle, a black Toyota sedan, was badly damaged. At least two people were trapped inside the Ford when it overturned and had to be extricated by first responders before they could be transported to Holy Cross.

The crash backed up traffic on State Road 68 in both directions for more than an hour while law enforcement and first responders worked to place the injured into ambulances and clear the crashed vehicles.   

All Taos Fire units and three ambulances were called to the scene.   Sgt. Greg Trujillo with the Taos County Sheriff's Office, other deputies and New Mexico State Police  secured the scene and conducted the  preliminary investigation. 

Hartt was interviewed by deputies at the scene and "displayed obvious signs of impairment and later admitted to having consumed alcohol before driving," said the statement issued by Hogrefe. Trujillo had Hartt take standard field sobriety tests before arresting her. Deputies then obtained a search warrant for a blood draw to test Hartt's alcohol and drug levels and those results were pending, according to Hogrefe.   Hartt was also given a breath test which showed her alcohol content to be 0.11.

Taos firefighters were still working to clear the crash site when some  units were called to a house fire off of Cañon East.  

New Mexico State Police also were called to assist first responders at another vehicle accident with injuries near Cerro Friday evening (Dec. 21), according to Taos Central Dispatch. 

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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