GRANTS, N.M. – On September 13 around midnight Grants Police Officer Justin Ahlheim witnessed a vehicle travelling behind him spin out, according to a police report from Grants Police Department. Ahlheim deduced this to have been the fault of a car accident and had to quickly maneuver his patrol car into a turning lane to avoid being hit by the same vehicle which had allegedly caused the accident.
Officer Ahlheim alerted Cibola County Regional Dispatch about the incident and approached the vehicle which had almost hit his patrol car. Officer Ahlheim recognized the driver as Grants Fire and Rescue Firefighter Michelle Serrano, according to the report. Ahlheim immediately noticed that Serrano’s “eyes were bloodshot and watery, her speech was slurred and she was having a hard time standing on her own.”
Officer Ahlheim went to check on the other vehicle – a white Jeep Cherokee, which had sustained serious damage, according to the report. Ahlheim recognized that this vehicle was leaking fuel, the back of the vehicle was reportedly pushed in and the axel was broken along with other structural damage. The vehicle’s passenger was complaining of chest pain and was unable to exit the vehicle. Officer Ahlheim called for assistance to extract the passenger because he was unable to force the door open.
Additional Grants Police officers and Cibola County Sheriff’s Deputies along with other first responders arrived to provide aid at the scene. When assistance came, Officer Ahlheim returned to Serrano who pleaded with the officer not to take her to jail, saying that she needs the job and then asked Ahlheim if he had ever seen dead babies, explaining that she had seen nine. According to the report, Serrano’s attention then turned to asking for help, she is quoted in the report, “Please don’t take me to jail.”
Seranno was asked by Officer Ahlheim if she would do a field sobriety test, she refused; Serrano was then arrested by CCSO Deputies on Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated - Driving While Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor/Drug(Refused Testing)(1st).
Both people in the Jeep were able to get out of the vehicle safely and then refused ambulance assistance, although the passenger admitted that he had passed out after the accident.
Serrano was awarded the Public Servant of the Year Award at the Grants/Cibola County Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet of 2020.
She appeared before Cibola County Magistrate Judge Johnny Valdez on Sept. 14 and was given an unsecured bond of $500. Grants Fire and Rescue Chief Robert Hays said that there is an investigation underway and that he is unable to discuss the situation.