On Friday, the Rio Rancho Police Department released the accident reports from two fatal pedestrian accidents on Oct. 24.
The first accident occurred at 5:53 a.m. on Terraza Boulevard at the intersection with Valle Alto Drive. Michael Warnken, 78, of Rio Rancho, was crossing the roadway while walking his dog when he was fatally struck. According to the report, the driver of a pickup was taking his daughter to school for early activities, heading toward Loma Colorado Boulevard on Terraza. He said he “felt he hit something, but was not sure what it was, nor did he see what he struck,” the report states. He continued to the next intersection, turned around and returned to the spot to see what he had hit, finding Warnken lying in the roadway. He called 911, and an officer began CPR, which was taken over by EMS. Warnken was pronounced dead at the scene.
The morning of the accident, neighbors called the accident “completely avoidable” and expressed frustration of the recent removal of crosswalks in the Loma Colorado neighborhood. However, the accident occurred in one of the remaining crosswalks.
The report lists driving conditions as clear, but dark and not lighted. It said the road was curving to the left on an uphill grade. Driver inattention was listed as a contributing factor, though no charges were listed. Alcohol was not a factor.
Police recently said that the dog was in the care of Warnken’s family.
Later that day, a second pedestrian, Victoria Aktsioglou, 52, was killed in an accident at 10:09 p.m. while crossing NM 528 at Southern Boulevard. The officer report states that she was hit by two vehicles and was found “beyond lifesaving measures.”
Both drivers were interviewed about the circumstances of the accident.
One driver said she was driving north in the middle lane of the highway and as she approached the intersection with Southern — with a green light — when the driver in front abruptly swerved right into another lane. She said she spotted what she thought was a pile of clothes or a sleeping bag in her lane and attempted to avoid it by swerving into the left lane. As she approached, she was able to see it was a pedestrian in the roadway and despite her attempt to avoid it, she “felt and heard her front right wheel and rear wheel hit the pedestrian.”
The other driver said he was also heading north on NM 528 as he approached a green light at Southern Boulevard. However, as he entered the intersection, he spotted “a female in dark clothing on the northern edge of the crosswalk.” He also swerved to avoid hitting her, first to the left and then to the right. He then saw her on the driver side of his vehicle and heard her hit his front bumper, fender and side mirror. He pulled over and called 911.
Four witnesses at the scene verified that the drivers had a green light, and pedestrian error was cited as an apparent contributing factor in the report. Driving conditions were listed as clear and dark with lighting with a straight and level roadway. No violations were listed on the report.