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Driver arrested after head-on collision

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A man was arrested Thursday night following a head-on collision on U.S. 285 involving a Dodge Ram and a stolen Ford Focus.

Jesus Ramirez-Meraz, 36, of Roswell is charged with one count each of aggravated driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs; leaving the scene of an accident, property damage; driving on the wrong side of the road; driving while license revoked; and open container, according to a complaint filed in Chaves County Magistrate Court.

Ramirez-Meraz pleaded not guilty to the charges Friday during an appearance in Magistrate Court, and subsequently was released on his own recognizance.

New Mexico State Police arrived at the scene of the crash, at milepost 177 south of Vaughn, at 7:19 p.m. Thursday, according to a press release. A man involved in the crash said the driver of a 2011 black Ford Focus involved in the crash fled the scene on foot, heading east.

Two open bottles of whiskey and a wallet containing a New Mexico Electoral ID card were found in the Focus.

Ramirez-Meraz returned to the scene of the accident and identified himself to an officer. The complaint states Ramirez-Meraz reeked of alcohol, and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.

He told officers that he and a friend had been heading from Roswell to Albuquerque before the crash. Ramirez-Meraz also said he had two beers earlier in the day.

State Police discovered through the Roswell Police Department that the Ford Focus was allegedly stolen by Ramirez-Meraz an hour before the vehicle collided with the Dodge Ram, according to the complaint.

Officers conducted field sobriety tests on Ramirez-Meraz, who performed poorly on them. He was then taken into custody without incident.

The driver of the Dodge sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.