Groom-to-be, friend killed on interstate while fixing flat tire

Tuesday was supposed to be a happy day for a New Mexico couple as they headed to Las Vegas to get married. Instead, a flat tire and an alleged drunken driver left the groom-to-be and another man dead, police said.

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Lonny Escovedo and Benigna Martinez were traveling to Las Vegas, The Albuquerque Journal reported. When their car got a flat tire on I-25 near Algodones, New Mexico, Escovedo called his sister Dawn Escovedo, who came to help along with her boyfriend, Michael Chambellan.

It was getting dark as the men changed the tire. That’s when deputies said Christie Noriega, 31, hit the car, killing Escovedo and Chambellan instantly, the Journal reported.

"We pulled around. We had our hazards on. I was standing right next to Mikey and my brother," Dawn Escovedo told KOAT. "Mikey was showing me what he was going to do. I was standing right next to him. He bent down to fill the tire. That car came and took them. They went flying."

Noriega was booked into the Sandoval County Detention Center on two counts of DWI-related homicide by vehicle. She was also charged with her second DWI offense and child abuse after deputies discovered her 2-year-old was in the back seat during the crash, the Journal reported.

Escovedo and Martinez had not told family they were going to get married.

“We didn’t want no family to stop us, nobody to tell us that we can and can’t get married,” Martinez told the Journal on Thursday. “It was spur of the moment.”

Lonny Escovedo, 28, was her “little class clown” who loved to dance, the 36-year-old told the Journal.

“As soon as you get him to start dancing, you could not get him to stop – he made me feel young again.”

The couple became engaged five months ago and had been together for 18 months, Martinez told the Journal.

“How we loved each other and couldn’t wait to get out of the state to be Mr. and Mrs. Escovedo,” she said. “To me, I think it’s a dream and I’ll wake up and he’ll be there -- but I know he’ll never be here ever again.”

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