Crash victims’ names released (updated)

Kevin Wilson

Officials on Tuesday morning released the names of four people killed Monday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash four miles east of Melrose.

The four who died on the scene, according to Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller:

• John Kline, 53, of Mansfield, Texas, the driver of a four-door Toyota sedan.

• Aminta Kline, 61, of Mansfield, John’s wife.

• Bessy Kline, 73, of Clovis, John’s mother. She was a Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce ambassador who often spent her own money to send U.S. soldiers care packages in Iraq and helped get a Blue Star Memorial mile marker placed at the New Mexico Visitor’s Center near Texico.

• Anthony Jesko, 91, of Clovis, a family friend.

Investigators believe the eastbound Kline vehicle lost traction on icy U.S. 60/84 about 2:45 p.m. Monday, sliding into a westbound pickup driven by James Townson, 67, of Clovis.

Townson and his daughter, Deanna Trujillo, 41, were sent to Plains Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. Townson was treated and released Tuesday from PRMC. Trujillo was transferred to University Medical Center in Lubbock, where she was listed in serious condition.

The accident is part of a spike in fatal accidents in a 50-mile radius of Clovis. In the last three months, 10 people have been killed in seven accidents. Six of the accidents have come in the last 10 weeks, with nine fatalities.

Law enforcement has no reason to believe there’s anything working but coincidence. Monday’s accident and a Dec. 1 crash that killed Coby Greenwalt of Clovis are the only ones with weather as a contributing factor.

“We just don’t have these stretches normally,” State Police Capt. Jimmy Glascock said. “It is certainly a significant increase.”

Glascock said the New Mexico State Police has investigated three fatal accidents during that time period in Curry and Roosevelt counties, and only investigated one during the same stretch in 2010.

Glascock said driver inattention is usually a factor in accidents, fatal or not. But inattention could vary from a mobile phone to a conversation with a passenger to changing a CD to eating in the car.

“We generally see some degree of distraction or inattention as part of a contributing factor,” Glascock said. “We’re all human beings. Of course, inattention could include a number of things. It’s reminder to not take anything for granted and be cautious.”