Aviation officer critical after hit by DWI suspect

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque Aviation Police officer continues the battle for his life. The drunk driving suspect accused of sending him to the hospital was sent back to jail Sunday.

Aviation Police officer Robert Dilley is in critical condition at University of New Mexico Hospital, after police say a drunk driver hit him on I-40 Friday night.

Sunday, KRQE News 13 spoke with his chief, and longtime friend.

He was on his way home from work Friday night around 11 o’clock. In a split second, Dilley’s world was turned upside down.

“Not only does it hit home, it feels like family,” said Albuquerque Aviation Police Chief, Marshall Katz.

Investigators say 32-year-old Michelle Rivera was driving drunk, speeding, and swerving in and out of traffic on I-40 near 6th Street, when she rear-ended Dilley’s jeep, and caused him to lose control and roll his jeep on it’s roof.

Dilley is in critical condition.

Chief Katz rushed to the hospital as soon as he heard the news. “I was there a few hours, just standing there praying,” said Katz.

Chief Katz is Dilley’s boss at the Sunport. More than that, they’ve been friends for 25-years, and previously worked together at the Albuquerque Police Department.

“Our department is only about 50 people, we know each other when one person’s victimized, we all feel the pain,” said Katz.

State Police said Dilley was trapped inside his jeep with severe head injuries and a broken neck.

Detectives smelled alcohol on Rivera’s breath, and said she was too drunk to stand. Her breath alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

Rivera has two prior DWI arrests, although both cases were dismissed.

She posted bond after Friday’s arrest, but a judge expressed concern. “Ms. Rivera I am going to find that you are a danger to the community and I’m going to remand you back into custody,” the judge stated.

Meanwhile, friends and family are pulling for Dilley’s recovery.

“He loves his job, he loves life, and in our hearts we know he’ll recover,” said Chief Katz.

Katz said he saw Dilley again Sunday, and there’s a long line of people wanting to visit him. KRQE News 13 is told he’s still sedated, still in critical condition.

Rivera is charged with great bodily harm by vehicle and aggravated DWI.

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