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Man indicted in DWI crash that killed two students

An Albuquerque man has been indicted in the November car crash that killed two UNM students and sent two others to the hospital.

Joshua Leal, 21, is charged with three counts of vehicular homicide due to reckless driving, one count of vehicular homicide due to DWI, and one count each of child abuse, larceny, tampering with evidence and stealing a motor vehicle, according to nmcourts.gov.

Leal and a second passenger fled the scene after ramming into another car carrying UNM students, only to be arrested soon after, according to a KOB report. Leal had methamphetamine in his system at the time of the crash, according to the report.

UNM students Briana Hillard and Matthew Grant died when the car they were in was struck by a stolen truck driven by Leal near the intersection of Bellamah Avenue and Rio Grande Boulevard.

Two other students, Julia Thompson and Joe Mendoza, were sent to the hospital.

Mendoza, a junior journalism and communications major, said the physical healing process is going well. He had to go through some physical rehabilitation in the hospital due to sustaining a fractured pelvis in the accident, but was released after only a few days, he said. After struggling to walk on his own power for about a month, Mendoza is able to walk again with minimal pain, he said.

However, he said it is healing of a different kind which has been difficult to endure.

“Not a day goes by where I don’t think about Briana or Matt,” Mendoza said. “My life, along with many others’ lives, has been forever changed and because of that, I do not think I will ever be able to move past it.”

Thompson, a senior speech and hearing sciences major, said she was in the hospital for three days with a fractured sternum, a lacerated liver and a concussion, but she said she is healing fine. She also said it is the emotional impact of the accident that will be the hardest to overcome.

“I think about it every day,” Thompson said. “Physically I am doing well but I will never be completely over what happened. The two people I was closest to died in that car. It has taken a huge emotional toll.”

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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