Head-on wreck with Presidio ambulance leaves one dead
By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN
PRESIDIO COUNTY – Rainfall, excessive speed, and suspected alcohol consumption may have contributed to a head-on collision with a Presidio ambulance near Shafter on Friday that left an Odessa man dead, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Rudolfo Sotelo-Guanespen of Odessa was pronounced dead at the scene after the pickup truck he was driving collided with a Presidio ambulance en route to the Alpine hospital. Two Presidio first responders, their patient, and a passenger in the Odessa man’s truck were also involved in the accident.
The truck driven by Sotelo-Guanespen was southbound on U.S. 67 at about 3:40pm Friday when it crossed into the lane of the northbound ambulance on a curve near Elephant Rock, said DPS Sergeant Carlos Reyna of Presidio.
Presidio EMT and driver Isidro Carrasco Pando, 27, EMT Steven Roberts, 51, and their patient, Julian Franco Galindo, 64, of Ojinaga, sustained minor injuries. The passenger in the truck was identified as Victor Jacquez Santana, 27, of San Elizario.
All were transported to Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine. Pando and Roberts were released, while Galindo and Santana were admitted.
“It’s one of those unfortunate things. We had two deaths last year 100 yards from that spot,” said Presidio Emergency Services Director Cary Lee Skelton. “It’s very dangerous, especially when it’s raining.”
Skelton said that Pando’s injuries were minor enough that he was able to get out of the ambulance after the crash and check on his partner, patient, and the other two accident victims.
Pando went “across the road and verified that the other driver passed away,” Skelton said, adding that Pando began performing life saving medical measures on the passenger of the other truck.
The ambulance radio was destroyed in the wreck, so Pando got a cell phone and walked to the Cibolo Creek Ranch gate where cellular service was available to call in the wreck.
Skelton applauded Pando for his heroics. “I can’t say enough about him. I’m putting him in for an EMS award by the governor. (Pando) “is a vital part of our team. He’s an excellent EMT.”
Pando is a Presidio native who lives in Fort Stockton and works part-time with Presidio EMS. Roberts, an Alamogordo, New Mexico resident, also works part-time for Presidio EMS.
Both are back at home with their families recuperating from the crash, Skelton said. “We’re going to give them a couple of weeks off. They’re kind of banged up, but we’re thankful to God that they’re ok.”
According to Skelton, Galindo had sustained a femur fracture. He was taken by Cruz Rojo in Ojinaga to the Presidio port of entry where he was met by the Presidio first responders.
Under good weather conditions, Galindo would have been flown from the Presidio airport to a larger medical center for surgery, but due to constant rainfall Friday, an air ambulance couldn’t land, Skelton said.
“It was a horrible set of circumstances,” he said, that put the Presidio EMTs and their patient on the roadway that rainy day.
Reyna said Santana told EMTs he and Sotelo-Guanespen had been drinking in Odessa and “drank a couple on the road.”
According to the DPS accident report, broken bottles of beer were found in Sotelo-Guanespen’s truck. The report goes on to say that Sotelo-Guanespen was “travelling at an unsafe speed for weather conditions” as well not adhering to a 45mph speed limit on the curve.
Both Skelton and Reyna commended emergency personnel who responded to the fatal wreck, including the Presidio EMS, Marfa EMS, Jeff Davis County EMS, Presidio County Sheriff’s Department, Marfa Volunteer Fire Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and Border Patrol EMS.
“It was a very large mutual aid,” said Skelton, and Marfa and Jeff Davis County first responders “should be recognized.”
With Presidio’s ambulance out of commission from the wreck, and their other in the shop, Marfa EMS covered the entire county for the next 24 hours.
After the wreck, Marfa EMTs “had to come back down to Presidio,” Skelton said. “It’s just another example of how our communities are working together. They are always very professional and we are thankful they were there for us.”