A man has been charged in connection to a five-vehicle crash that occurred in May 2015 in downtown Roswell that led to the death of a 77-year-old woman.
According to a news release from the Roswell Police Department, the driver is accused of driving under the influence of a prescription drug when he allegedly caused the crash.
Orlando Padilla, 68, is charged with homicide by vehicle and a drug-related DWI.
Family members of 77-year-old victim Zora Lykins said they were reassured that charges have finally been filed.
“The Lykins family is relieved and pleased in seeing that the judicial system has not failed them,” Tim Lykins, the son of Zora Lykins, and Darlene Starling, his life partner, said in a joint statement Thursday night. “The current status concerning the person responsible for the tragic accident that took the life of Zora Lykins along with the persons whom were affected by this collision will find some solace in knowing that justice will be served.”
A criminal complaint and arrest warrant for Padilla were filed June 28 in Chaves County Magistrate Court.
The RPD said the investigating officer for Padilla’s case attempted to contact him at his home later on June 28. While the officer was initially unsuccessful, they were able to make contact with his adult son, who was informed of the warrant and asked to tell his father to turn himself in.
Five days later, on Monday morning, Padilla turned himself in to authorities at magistrate court. Padilla was booked into the Chaves County Detention Center and that afternoon was released on a $5,000 bond.
Tim Lykins and Starling hope that the case moving forward will be handled in a timely manner.
“We have faith in that the progression forward in cases such as this one will be dealt with in a swift and justly manner,” their statement said.
The investigating officer concluded the RPD report and investigation to Padilla’s case in early 2016. The material was then turned over to the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office for consideration of prosecution.
Since then, the District Attorney’s Office has been reviewing the case. Just recently, it approved the filing of the charges.
In reference to Padilla’s drug-related DWI, he is accused of being under the influence of a medication used to treat insomnia when he crashed his vehicle into the rear of a pickup truck stopped at a red light on Main Street on May 18, 2015, at about 9 a.m.
Zora Lykins was at the stoplight in the southbound lane of Main Street. She was waiting to turn left onto Fifth Street, near the Chaves County Courthouse.
RPD’s investigation found Padilla’s pickup was also traveling southbound on Main Street and going at about 10 mph more than the posted 25-mph speed limit when the crash occurred.
Police said the impact from the rear-end crash sent Lykins’ pickup truck forward across the intersection, causing it to strike three vehicles that were also waiting at the red light in the northbound lanes of Main Street. While there were no serious injuries for the occupants in those three vehicles, Lykins, still in her pickup, was reported unresponsive immediately following the crash.
Lykins, a resident of Roswell, was transported to a local hospital and then flown to Lubbock for further treatment of severe injuries. She died at that hospital May 21, 2015, three days after the crash.
Padilla was also transported to a local hospital after the crash and was complaining of neck pain. Lykins and Padilla were the lone occupants of each of their respective vehicles.
Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com. General assignment reporter Katy Ross contributed to this report.