The Northside Signpost Web Edition

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Crash kills Placitas woman

—Barb Belknap

Eighteen-year-old Danielle Romero was killed in a head-on collision in the Placitas village on August 15. The accident was a grim reminder that this close-knit rural community is not always a safe haven.

Twenty-seven-year-old Earlene Nakai apparently took a tragically wrong turn after exiting I-25 on her way to Shiprock. The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department dispatched an officer to check out a pickup that was reportedly swerving and driving erratically while repeatedly turning around on Highway 165. Several minutes later, another call came in reporting the collision.

Nakai’s truck crossed the centerline and crashed into Romero’s brand-new Hyundai on the western edge of the village. Romero’s seat belt and air bag could not save her when her car was demolished by the impact that flipped the pickup and ejected Nakai, who was transported to the hospital in critical condition. A sheriff’s deputy reported that Nakai smelled of alcohol, and an investigation into possible DWI charges has been initiated.

Traffic was halted for nearly two hours while rescue workers and law enforcement worked at the scene. Romero family members, including Tina Romero, Danielle’s mother, clung to each other as they viewed the wreckage. Most of the people stopped by the road seemed to be friends and neighbors who reverently shared the somber time of loss.

Romero, a recent graduate of Bernalillo High School, was working on a career in medicine and dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. She was employed as a phlebotomist at Presbyterian Healthcare in Rio Rancho. She was driving to Bernalillo to visit her boyfriend at the time of the accident.

On the next day, dozens of friends and family members erected a shrine at the spot on NM 165 where Romero died. Funeral services were held at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Bernalillo and Romero was buried next to her grandmother, not far from the scene of the crash. Traffic came to a standstill as the Placitas village filled with mourners, including Romero’s large extended family. Her grandparents are the mayordomos of the O.L.O.S. cemetery adjacent to the old Placitas post office.

The Danielle Romero Memorial Fund has been established at First State Bank, 241-7530, 221 Highway 165, in Placitas. Pending the police investigation, donations to the memorial fund will go to either Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.) or a children’s fund yet to be named.

Danielle is survived by her parents, Tina and Leo Romero, and her sisters, Diondria and Danisha. Leo Romero said, “We want to extend our appreciation to all of our friends, relatives, and neighbors who have offered their prayers and helped us through this time of grief.”

Study says fires not the fault of environmentalists

The results of an independent assessment of the Rodeo and Chediski Fires in Arizona indicate that many politicians were off base when they blamed these fires on environmental groups and contended that logging would have prevented them.

A report released by the Biodiversity Institute evaluated the factors and highlighted two basic facts: first, the fires started and burned extensively on tribal land before entering the National Forests; and second, much of the area burned by these fires is land that has experienced extensive logging and road building over the last fifty years. The study also called attention to the fact that most wildfires nationwide are burning on private, tribal, and state land, not on National Forest land as commonly believed.

Federal wildfire statistics reveal that over the last decade less than 18 percent of the nationwide wildfire burn area is in the National Forests. It is also important to note that over the past ten years nearly 90 percent of all wildfires were started by people—usually on or adjacent to a road.

Peter Morrison, executive director of Pacific Biodiversity Institute and the senior author of the study, says, “Some elected leaders in the West have launched a concerted public relations campaign to use the outbreak of wildfire in the Southwest as a tool to smear environmental organizations. There is no evidence that environmental groups protected this area. The debate over national forest management and fire policy should stick to the facts. Most wildfires nationwide burn on state, private and tribal land, not on National Forests.” For more information, see


Placitas Fire Brigade plans October recruit class

Daisy Kates
PVFB Training Officer

The Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade was created in 1973 and for twenty-nine years has provided emergency fire and medical response to the forty-five-square-mile area of Placitas as well as mutual aid to Algodones, Bernalillo, and other nearby districts. In order to keep up with the constant expansion of our community, the brigade offers two recruit classes each year to increase our membership. The PVFB would like to have representation in all areas of Placitas in order to insure rapid response to 911 calls.

The recruit class is designed as an entry-level course to provide members with the basic training and awareness needed to participate safely and effectively on scenes. Additional training opportunities allow members to obtain certification as firefighters and emergency medical responders. Aside from offering state certified courses, the PVFB has ongoing in-house training and events to keep up our skill levels, teamwork, and camaraderie.

The approximately thirty-hour class will be held in October. The instructor will be Dan Shaw, who was the former chief of the PVFB and who received the Firefighter of the Year Award in Sandoval County. Several other members will assist in teaching the course. The class is open to all residents of Placitas and Bernalillo, and a cadet-level entry is also available for those aged sixteen to eighteen.

We know that most people live busy and demanding lives, but we feel that becoming a member of the brigade can be a rewarding and exciting opportunity to learn new skills and contribute to your community. If you would like to consider joining, attend the one-hour prospective-member session, which outlines the responsibilities and expectations of the department. This will allow you to make an informed decision on becoming a member. If you would like more information or would like to sign up for a prospective member session, please call Daisy at 867-3790.


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