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Churchrock man charged with abuse, vehicular harm

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Octavius Dan Atele, 25, of Churchrock,  N.M., was charged with great bodily harm by vehicle, child abuse and DWI with a minor, following a crash that resulted in him and his one-month-old baby being airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque on Feb. 8.

According to reports, Metro Dispatch received a call at about 1:18 pm following an accident with serious injuries caused by a possible drunk driver in a red Chevy Trax. Deputies Terence Willie and Paul Davis arrived at the scene, on State Highway 566 at the 4.1 mile marker.

There, they saw the red Chevy on the side of the road, with heavy front-end damage. A woman who had stopped at the scene told deputies that children were involved and were still inside. Deputies also saw that a Chevy Malibu was parked on the southbound shoulder with heavy damage to its rear-end.

According to reports, Willie saw a small child sitting in the rear passenger side of the Trax, with blood coming from her nose and scratches on her face. She had blood on her shirt and was holding a blood-covered paper towel to her nose.

Willie saw another child in a car seat in the front, the police report stated. A woman at the scene told Willie that she saw another child inside Atele’s Trax, crying and stuck inside the car. The unidentified woman had taken out the car seat to remove the small child.

Willie walked up to Atele’s car and saw Atele on his hands and knees. He said he could not move. Atele denied using any alcohol or drugs before the accident. Then Atele asked about the condition of his children and the others in the car he struck.

According to reports, Willie saw two pipes and an empty small clear glass container with a green leafy substance inside it in the center console of Atele’s Trax.

Willie met with the other woman involved in the crash, who said the Trax approached so rapidly she had no time to do anything about it, resulting in the Trax hitting her from behind. She was taken to Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital for her injuries.

Reports state that Willie met with Atele at the Gallup Indian Medical Center in the emergency room. There, Atele denied using alcohol or drugs prior to the accident. He stated he was driving southbound on State Highway 566 near Churchrock. He said the Malibu had pulled in front of him and he had no time to stop.

Willie arrested Atele at 3:36 pm at GIMC, and Atele agreed to have his blood drawn for alcohol testing. Willie mailed the blood kit, and the results are unknown at this time.

A nurse at GIMC said Atele had injuries to his hip, and that the one-month-old baby had possible brain injuries resulting from the crash.

Atele was charged with great bodily harm by vehicle, his second such offense; child abuse, driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle, also his second such offense; aggravated driving while intoxicated, careless driving, not using child restraints, and possession of drug paraphernalia.