ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – State Police’s highest ranking officer found himself in the role of victim when he was rear-ended by a suspected drunk driver.
Chief Pete Kassetas says he was waiting at a red light at Eubank and Indian School around eight at night on Friday when out of nowhere, he was hit from behind.
“I did get out of the vehicle, obviously, I had no idea what had happened,” Chief Pete Kassetas said.
He also said he went over to the minivan that struck the back of his brand new pickup truck and began speaking to the driver.
“He was very apologetic and said his brakes weren’t working correctly and immediately I could smell an alcoholic beverage,” Kassetas said.
Kassetas said he saw a pack of beer no longer full, sitting on the front passenger seat.
“Saw his eyes were bloodshot, watery, he was slurring his speech, saw the key indicators of someone drinking,” said Kassetas.
He then said the man saw Kassetas’ gun and became fearful, but Kassetas said he assured the driver it would be okay, and that he was a police officer.
“I told him a little bit later that he had the unfortunate luck of hitting the State Police Chief,” he said.
Albuquerque Police came out and performed field sobriety tests on Andres Salazar, but he failed them. Salazar ended up admitting to both Kassetas and APD he had two beers and a shot of Vodka earlier.
The Chief of State Police said it was a scary situation that could have ended much worse.
“The unfortunate reality is that absolutely nobody is immune to crossing paths with a drunk driver,” he said
Salazar, 68, was arrested for DWI and careless driving. After spending the night in jail, he was released on his own recognizance. He doesn’t have a criminal record in New Mexico.