• Search

2 Gallup Police Officers, 13 Civilians Injured After Driver Crashes Into Parade Route

Gallup, NM – Two Gallup police officers and 13 civilians were injured when a drunken man behind the wheel of an SUV plowed into the 100th annual Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial Parade route on Thursday evening, according to police.

New Mexico State Police (NMSP) said one of the 15 victims suffered severe injuries, KOAT reported.

The incident occurred near South Second Street and New Mexico State Road 118 at approximately 8:10 p.m., witness William Hawk-Birdshead told Native News Online.

Hawk-Birdshead said the vehicle came out of nowhere and plowed through the parade.

“People were screaming,” he told Native News Online. “It was horrifying to witness. “I can’t imagine the trauma this has caused for the people.”

NMSP Lieutenant Mark Soriano said no one suffered fatal injuries during the incident, but he would not elaborate on the nature of the injuries the victims did suffer, KNXV reported.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a Facebook video that the vehicle came speeding towards him and many of his tribal council delegates and team members as they were participating in the parade, according to the news outlet.

“Thank God that folks that were around me…were not struck by the vehicle,” Nez said. “A lot of emotions [are] happening right now. I’m angry.”

According to Gallup Magistrate Court documents, the driver of the SUV was later identified as 33-year-old Jeff Irving, KOAT reported.

Investigators said Irving admitted that he had been consuming alcohol prior to the crash.

NMSP conducted field sobriety tests on Irving and concluded he was impaired, KOAT reported.

They said he provided to breath samples, both of which registered at 0.24.

Irving was arrested on 14 counts of leaving the scene of an accident, aggravated driving while intoxicated, driving while license is revoked, aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer, no proof of insurance, expired registration, and possession of an open container, KOB reported.

The Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial is the longest-running historic event in New Mexico, according to Native News Online.

This year marks the 100th annual celebration.

The crash occurred on the first night of this year’s festivities, which are slated to continue through Aug. 14, Native News Online reported.

“The Navajo Nation stands with resilience against any acts of violence and sends prayers of protection to those affected,” Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon said in a press release. “This was a traumatic and triggering event for many, especially for our youth, elders, and our veterans who acted quickly.”

“We thank the first responders and our law enforcement officers for bringing this incident to an end,” Damon added. “The perpetrators will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


Sign up to our daily newsletter so you don't miss out on the latest events surrounding law enforcement!

Follow Me

Follow us on social media and be sure to mark us as "See First."