A Las Vegas man died when a car struck him while he was riding a motorcycle early Sunday evening.
Joseph Roybal, 42, San Miguel County’s crusher facility foreman, was pronounced dead at the site of the accident at Seventh Street and Legion Drive. The crash happened around 4:30 p.m.
According to police, Richard Vigil, 25, was headed south on Seventh in a SUV when he turned left onto Legion. In so doing, he struck the Roybal’s motorcycle. Roybal hit the side of Vigil’s car and became trapped underneath the vehicle, Police Chief Gary Gold said.
Vigil was taken to Alta Vista Regional Hospital for minor injuries, Gold said. The police arranged for a blood test, even though Vigil didn’t appear to have been drinking, Gold said.
Witnesses said it appeared as if both drivers had been trying to beat a red light, Gold said.
Charges are pending, and the district attorney’s office is reviewing the case, Gold said.
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Roybal had recently become the foreman of the county’s new gravel crusher, which makes road materials for county projects. It was an attempt by the county to rein in the costs of road projects and get more bang for the taxpayer’s buck.
Roybal started with the county eight years ago, and he was popular with employees, said Harold Garcia, the county’s public service foreman.
“He was a 6-foot-2 gentle giant. He was like a brother to me,” said Garcia, who visited the family in the hours after Roybal’s death.
A few years ago, Roybal left the county to work for a contractor, where he got more money. That was one of the reasons that county commissioners decided to bump up the pay for public works employees with credentials, Garcia said.
“The commissioners asked how we could keep employees. We suggested they be compensated a little bit more for their credentials. They did that, and Joseph was one of the first guys we brought back,” Garcia said.
Roybal was one of the first-place winners at last year’s inaugural New Mexico Association of Counties equipment rodeo.
“The guy knew equipment. He knew crushers. He knew road construction,” Garcia said. “He was a big inspiration to the rest of the crew in the public works division. You can talk to any county employee, and you’ll hear nothing but good about Joseph Roybal.”