The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Railroad crossing fatality puzzling for state police


New Mexico State Police say they don’t know why Alfonso Gonzales Jr., 37, of Clovis, drove onto the BNSF railroad tracks west of Cannon Air Force Base late on Christmas Eve.

They do know he didn’t survive the crash.

“When the deceased drove onto the railroad tracks, the engineer put the train into emergency stop,” said state police Sgt. Chris Clements. “Then the deceased backed off the tracks, the engineer released the emergency stop, then the deceased went back on the tracks and started traveling head-on toward the train on the tracks.”

Clements said the train engineer estimated the train had slowed to about 50 mph by the time it hit Gonzales’ vehicle, a 1999 Ford F-150 pickup. No alcohol or narcotics were suspected in the crash, and the lights at the crossing of Curry Road Y and the railroad were working at the time.

Gonzales’ mother, Mary Gonzales, said her son was a Clovis native and most of his family — five brothers and three sisters — were planning to get together for Christmas. The last she heard from her son was 6:30 p.m. when he called to say he would be visiting a friend before coming home.

“We just kept waiting and waiting, expecting him to come and he never did, and then the police called me. They told me what happened,” Mary Gonzales said. “This has been a terrible Christmas.”

Gonzales’ sister, Cipriana Aragon, said her brother was unmarried and lived with his parents, but loved to spend time with his relatives.

“He cared for his nieces and nephews and everyone in the family,” Aragon said. “I have no idea why this happened. He had left work, went to one of his friends and we don’t know what happened there.”

Derrell Hanson, manager of Eldorado Dairy where Gonzales had worked since the facility opened three years ago, confirmed that Gonzales had been at work Wednesday. Hanson said Gonzales treated cows in the dairy and was among his best employees.

“He’s a guy who showed up for work every day, had a great work ethic, and was just an all-around stand-up guy,” Hanson said. “I have both of his brothers working here as well.”

“It’s really sad that this had to happen, especially around Christmas,” Hanson said.

Funeral arrangements will be with Muffley Funeral Home of Clovis, whose staff said Thursday that service times had not yet been set.


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