- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The University of New Mexico is mourning the loss of two students and the injuries of two others after a truck that was reported stolen slammed into the car they were in, a school official said Sunday.

Two of the students involved in the Friday night crash belong to the same sorority, UNM spokeswoman Dianne Anderson said.

“We have reached out to them to offer whatever university resources we can,” she said.

The two students killed were identified in a criminal complaint as Briana Hillard and Matthew Grant. According to police, Hillard was the sedan driver and died at the scene. Grant was taken to a hospital and rushed into surgery but died.

Julia Thompson and Joseph Mendoza were listed in critical but stable condition Sunday, police spokesman Simon Drobik said.

An Albuquerque police officer spotted the truck traveling at a high rate of speed around 11:30 p.m. Friday near Albuquerque’s Old Town, an area populated by bars and restaurants. The truck was heading northbound on Rio Grande Boulevard while the officer was traveling southbound, Drobik said. By the time the officer turned his vehicle around, the truck had T-boned the sedan, which was exiting a parking lot. The impact overturned the sedan.

“The officers on scene were completely rocked and devastated by what they saw,” Drobik said. “To have four young people cut down in the prime of their lives. They weren’t doing anything wrong.”

Joshua Leal, 21, and a 16-year-old male passenger fled from the truck after the accident, police said, but helicopters and officers were able to locate them. Both suspects were treated for minor injuries and then arrested.

Police verified that the truck had been reported stolen about a month ago, Drobik said. A handgun was also recovered from the vehicle.

Drugs and alcohol were likely contributing factors in the crash, Drobik said. An officer found a plastic bag in Leal’s pocket that was believed to be marijuana, the criminal complaint stated.

Leal was booked on charges of vehicular homicide, child abuse, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, larceny and tampering with evidence. He was being held on $225,000 bail at Bernalillo County Detention Center. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney.

The 16-year-old boy will also be booked on felony charges, including vehicular homicide, Drobik said. The Associated Press is not identifying him because of his age.

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