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Update: Driver faces DUI, careless driving charges in Cortez collision

Honda allegedly runs red light, hits pickup truck

A driver from New Mexico faces DUI and careless driving charges after allegedly running a red light and colliding with a pickup truck at a busy intersection Tuesday night in Cortez.

Merle Lee Sloan, the driver of a Honda Accord, failed to stop at the Main and Sligo street intersection near Walmart about 6:50 p.m. Tuesday and was suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, said Patrol Lt. Rex Brinkerhoff.

Sloan is a resident of Iyanbito, New Mexico, about 15 miles east of Gallup.

He was given a sobriety test after first stating he had one drink 30 minutes prior to the accident. He later said it was half a drink. Sloan said his legs hurt, but he agreed to perform the test after responding police officer Tyler Smith told him that not all the voluntary roadside maneuvers would require walking. He did not perform the test satisfactorily, Smith wrote in his report.

Sloan has six prior DUI charges, the report said.

Sloan hit the front of a Ford 250 pickup truck towing a trailer after a witness saw his Honda traveling at a “high rate of speed” through the red light, according to the incident report.

There was severe damage to the driver’s side front end of the Honda, and the airbags deployed. The driver of the pickup reported that his left shoulder hurt.

The pickup was towed when the driver, a resident of Cortez, was unable to drive it from the scene because of steering system damage. There was a passenger in his car. No further reports were made about their conditions.

Sloan said he was driving to LivWell at 1819 E. Main St. after work when the other vehicle “came out of nowhere,” the police report said. Sloan said he had a green light.

Although he was found to have a fractured sternum, Sloan was medically cleared for jail at Southwest Memorial Hospital, then placed into custody at the Montezuma County Detention Center, the report said.

He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, careless driving resulting in bodily injury and failing to present proof of insurance, according to the police report.

“We’ve been having lots of crashes,” Brinkerhoff said.