State Police are investigating a single-car crash that killed a UNM student north of Socorro last week to determine if alcohol played any role in the early morning accident which left another UNM student injured.

Collin Smith-Levin, 22, of Albuquerque was pronounced dead at the scene after he was ejected from the vehicle he was traveling in after it rolled over several times on the southbound side of I-25 on April 17.



"Yes, we are investigating the possibility of liquor," said State Police Lt. Robert Shilling. He added that he did not have any additional information as to why police are looking to see if alcohol played a role in the crash.

Shilling said the vehicle, a 1998 Dodge four-door car, was traveling southbound near mile marker 183, about 10 miles south of Belen, when the driver traveled into the median, overcorrected his steering and rolled the car an undetermined number of times.

Smith-Levin was killed and the car's other passenger, Desi Lopez, a UNM junior, was transported to UNM Hospital where he is currently listed in satisfactory condition.

The vehicle's driver, Theodore "TJ" Apodaca, a UNM student, allegedly left the accident on foot shortly after the crash, police said.

Shilling did not know if police have questioned Apodaca or Lopez about the accident.

Smith-Levin's father, David Levin, said his son had been to a club in Albuquerque just before the accident and that he was traveling to Socorro to drop Lopez off at home.

"Obviously it's been a weird time," Levin said, adding that his son was a hard-working student who was very focused on his work and who appeared as an extra in several full-length motion pictures while he was living in Los Angeles.

"He was always just driven to excel," Levin said. "It's just the way he has always been."

Levin said his son had been home-schooled and liked to stay ahead in his courses by reading text assignments well before class discussions.

"He had an excellent academic record," said Dawn Blue Sky-Hill, program coordinator of Student Affairs Special Programs.

Sky-Hill is the program coordinator for Student Support Services, a program geared toward helping undergraduates achieve their college goals and getting into post-degree programs. Smith-Levin was a member of the program.

Sky-Hill said Smith-Levin, who was majoring in Spanish, had made the Dean's List in each of the last two semesters. She added that he had made several friends with other undergraduate students who traveled on various trips, as part of the program, to learn more about academic research.

On a trip to Denver less than two weeks ago, Smith-Levin wrote an essay about his experience and turned it into Sky-Hill.

"I have a definite interest in exploring the possibilities of attending graduate school or attaining my doctorate degree," he wrote in his essay. The piece also states that law was an area of study that most interested him.

Rufus Cohen, owner of Textival Rug & Textile Workshop, 2300 Buena Vista Drive SE, knew Smith-Levin before he hired him one and a half years ago. At the time, he had recently moved to Albuquerque because he transferred to UNM from its Gallup branch campus.

Despite having no experience, Cohen hired Smith-Levin based upon his interview and after 18-months, he was not disappointed with his progress.

"He basically became an expert oriental rug restorer," Cohen said. "[He was] the kind of person I think who is extremely motivated."

Cohen described Smith-Levin as friendly, driven, willing to learn, independent and intelligent.

"I never met anyone like him - he built his future right in front of him," Cohen said. "What's so tragic about this is he had lofty goals for himself."

A memorial service honoring Smith-Levin's life will be offered at 3 p.m. today at Cohen's home at 229 Riverside Drive SW.