Severely drunk man almost runs over child, flees scene

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – A severely intoxicated man nearly ran over a 5-year-old child who was playing at a residence Sunday, according to police reports.

Officers were initially dispatched to the area of 9th Avenue and 13th Street at about 6:36 p.m. regarding a hit-and-run.

Upon arrival, a witness stated a white Chevy truck eastbound on 13th Street had nearly hit a parked vehicle and her 5-year-old son who was playing next to the fence at the corner. The witness said the truck backed up after passing 9th Avenue and then attempted to turn northbound onto 9th Avenue but instead ran into a utility pole. The truck then backed up again and proceeded northbound on 9th Avenue.

An officer located a liquid trail from the scene and that the utility pole had been noticeably damaged from the impact. However, the officer was not able to immediately locate the truck.

At about 11:11 p.m. the same night, officers were dispatched to a domestic call in the 900 block of W. 11th Street.

Upon arrival, officers noticed the truck parked at the residence looked like the one described in the earlier hit-and-run and had damage consistent with crashing head-on into the utility pole.

The victim at the residence said her ex-boyfriend, Michael Abeyta, had arrived at her home drunk roughly four hours ago and passed out. When he awoke, he demanded she give him a beer and she refused.

According to the woman, Abeyta then attempted to leave and she tried to stop him from driving drunk. At that point, Abeyta allegedly backed up the vehicle toward the woman, who had to jump out of the way. The truck then collided with the residence’s gate, causing damage to it.

Abeyta denied crashing his truck into the utility pole and almost hitting the 5-year-old and said he only drove on 8th Avenue that day and did not take any side streets. The officer later showed Abeyta’s picture to the witness of the crash, and the witness positively identified Abeyta as the driver.

Abeyta also denied his domestic incident was over beer and said it was an argument about people living in the backyard. He said he accidentally hit the gate and then pulled forward.

A portable breath test showed Abeyta’s breath/alcohol concentration to be a staggering .335 percent. He was then arrested for aggravated DUI and a blood draw was performed at 12:05 a.m.

Due to his extremely high alcohol level, the Graham County Adult Detention Facility would not accept Abeyta. Instead, he was transported to the Valley Motel, where a friend was staying and was advised to not leave the room.

In addition to the aggravated DUI charge, additional pending charges of driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, criminal damage, and endangerment are pending review from the Graham County Attorney’s Office.