Sen. Jacob Candelaria

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Albuquerque police and paramedics responded to a roll-over crash Friday involving state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, who said he lost consciousness while driving, just before the wreck.

Witnesses told officers that Candelaria’s vehicle “was traveling at a high rate of speed and ran a red light” before striking parked cars near Mountain and Rio Grande NW, according to body-camera videos and a statement released by Albuquerque police on Tuesday.

“Officers did not observe any signs of impairment by Candelaria,” APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.

Candelaria said he wasn’t cited in the incident.

In lapel-camera video released by police, Candelaria apologizes and says he is thankful he’s alive and didn’t hurt anyone else in the crash.

“All I remember was, like, a cough, and my head hurting a little bit, and then I wake up here,” he told an officer at the scene, according to camera footage.

The officer asks Candelaria if he’s sure he doesn’t want to go to the hospital. Candelaria said he prefers to go home with his husband, who is a medical doctor and can keep an eye on him.

Candelaria never mentions that he’s a legislator. An officer asks him what he does for a living and Candelaria identifies himself as a lawyer.

In an interview Tuesday, Candelaria told the Journal that he lost consciousness just before the crash and has no memory of accelerating or running a red light. He has scheduled an appointment with his primary care provider, he said, to determine the cause of the “unforeseen medical episode.”

“The last thing I remember was driving past the Albuquerque Museum,” Candelaria said. “The next thing I know I’m upside down in my Chevy Equinox.”

At least two police officers responded, he said, and paramedics evaluated him at the scene. Candelaria said he had some bruising and other injuries.

“It was incredibly traumatic,” Candelaria said.

Candelaria is an independent senator who has represented a chunk of the West Side since 2013. He’s also a former Democrat who frequently clashes with the party’s leadership.

Candelaria said Tuesday neither alcohol nor drugs played a role in the crash.

“Had APD had even the slightest inkling I was impaired to the slightest degree,” Candelaria said, “I would have been detained. I was not. I was stone-cold sober.”

He added that he is grateful to the people who helped him out of his vehicle after the crash and he said he would compensate the owners of the parked vehicles that were damaged or destroyed.