ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Christina Montoya, 40, was charged with vehicular homicide by DWI in a violent crash that killed her niece last February.
Montoya was arrested on a warrant and booked into the Metro Detention Center. Her bond is set at $100,000 cash only.
“I have been waiting and praying for this day to happen,” Antoinette Sena, the girl’s mother, said. Sena is Montoya’s sister.
Starr Olsen, 19, and Montoya were on Interstate 25 headed to El Paso, Texas from Albuquerque. Police said the car flew down an embankment just south of Truth or Consequences. Starr was killed instantly. Christina was air lifted to University Medical Center in El Paso after complaining of injuries.
“By the time they air lifted her and got closer to El Paso, they started detecting the odor,” New Mexico State Police Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said.
Emergency personnel on-board the helicopter told investigators they smelled alcohol on Montoya. According to the incident report, bottles of alcohol were also found at the scene of the crash. But investigators said they didn’t have the proof to charge Montoya with drunk driving.
“We need to have that probable cause,” Gutierrez told KRQE News 13 last month.
Police said there was no time to conduct field sobriety tests at the scene of the crash because treating Montoya’s injuries was a higher priority. Gutierrez also said authorities in New Mexico weren’t able to contact Texas police to get a search warrant that would have allowed a blood test on Montoya.
“We weren’t able to step down to get that help of anyone to step up to say, ‘hey we’ll come help you guys out,’ ” Gutierrez said.
The case took another twist. Two weeks after the crash that killed Starr, Isleta Police arrested Montoya for aggravated DWI. A Belen magistrate judge convicted Montoya of drunken driving in December. She has since appealed the conviction.
Montoya told News 13 last month that she was not drunk at the time of either crash. She also said she didn’t bring the alcohol on the road trip to El Paso.
“I believe honestly, I did not know this until I came back, but I didn’t know my niece had ended up taking alcohol with us, and I was not aware of it,” Montoya said.
But according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed in Sierra County Magistrate Court, Montoya’s medical records show blood tests taken by hospital staff hours after the crash that killed Starr show Montoya had a blood alcohol level of a 0.14.
Officials said medical records are not admissible as evidence in court because of federal privacy laws unless a defendant allows it. According to the affidavit, Montoya willingly signed a waiver to release her records.
Sena said she is relieved to know Montoya is charged with her daughter’s death.
“Nothing’s going to bring her back to me, but at least some accountability is starting,” Sena said.
A court official said the Sierra County sheriff will pick Montoya up from MDC some time next week for her first appearance in court. No date has been set yet.
Calls to Montoya’s attorney were not returned.