SANTE FE, N.M. – A week after William Tenorio, a San Felipe Pueblo man, was killed in a hit-and-run accident, the three children he left behind – Dianne, 23, Adrianne, 20, and James, 15 – are bereft and rudderless.
“We’re still pretty much all in shock. It comes in waves. These little things that remind us of him is when it hits us,” Dianne Tenorio told Indian Country Today in a phone interview on Dec. 3 on the one-week anniversary of her father’s death.
”It’s kind of really hard. You’re still wondering what actually happened with the investigation going on. It’s hard for my brother and sister to accept. We get up in the morning and I’m still hoping to hear him. It’s unbelievable that something like this could happen to us, to our family and to my dad. I don’t know if we’re grieving now or when it’s going to start,” Dianne said.
William Tenorio, 46, a local disc jockey, a volunteer kids’ soccer coach, a catechism teacher in his church, and a leadership facilitator who ran a youth group during a summer program, was buried at the San Felipe Pueblo on Thanksgiving Day.
Tenorio died around noon on the day before Thanksgiving from head and neck trauma after being struck by a black BMW car just before 2 a.m. near Will Lee’s Blues Club on Guadeloupe Street, according to the police.
Carlos William Fierro, a prominent, politically-connected lawyer, has been charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident after striking and killing Tenorio. He was allegedly drunk at the time.
Fierro, 36, is an attorney and former lobbyist with ties to both U.S. Rep. Tom Udall and U.S. Sen. John McCain.
State Police Sgt. Alfred Lovato, a member of Gov. Bill Richardson’s security team who was Fierro’s passenger in the car, has been put on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation.
At a press conference held by the Tenorio family on Sunday, Nov. 30 at the Albuquerque Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Dianne Tenorio praised her father as “a productive, loving optimistic person” who devoted his life to his family and his community. She made a plea for the equal application of the law in her father’s death.
“My dad, William Tenorio, was not an advisor to politicians. My dad was an advisor to his three children and basically everyone he came into contact with. …
“My dad did not attend a prestigious out of state college. My dad attended the University of New Mexico and was 32 hours away from a degree in accounting. …
“My dad taught us that as Pueblo people, we have strong traditions that need to be carried on. I know the public has been wondering where our family has been. In our traditional ways we were honoring and celebrating all the good that my dad has done and at the same time saying good bye.
“My dad made mistakes in his life just like Mr. Fierro. The difference between Mr. Fierro and my father is that my dad owned up to his mistakes and accepted the consequences. …
“Our lives will never be the same without my dad, William Tenorio. I ask that any witnesses call the Santa Fe authorities. Most importantly, on behalf of myself, my sister Adrianne and my brother James, I ask that the laws of New Mexico be applied regardless of prestige, power and influence. I know my dad would want us to ask what lessons can be learned from such a great loss. I hope one of the lessons is that laws protect regular, everyday New Mexican citizens like you and me,” Dianne said.
Witnesses came forward from the moment the hit-and-run crash occurred. On Dec. 1, police released the 911 tapes of calls on the night of Tenorio’s death, including the following:
Dispatch: Santa Fe 911 where is your emergency?
Caller: Oh, (expletive) we need an ambulance right away, okay really fast, right away, Guadalupe and Montezuma, somebody got hit by a car.
Dispatch: Somebody got hit by a car?
Caller: Someone got hit by a car (inaudible) 50 miles an hour, somebody driving with their headlights off just, just took him out. Oh my God.
Eyewitness News Channel 4 reported that 911 dispatchers were flooded with calls from people who watched as the car slammed into Tenorio and took off.
Investigators said that Tenorio was walking out to his car when he was hit. They said he was the designated driver for his friends. At least one witness chased the black BMW.
“I’m out of breath because I just chased him about a block trying to get the license plate number,” a caller said.
Police caught up to the BMW a few blocks away and found Fierro behind the wheel and Lovato in the passenger’s seat.
At his arraignment on Dec. 2, Fierro was released on a $250,000 bond.
Prosecutor A.J. Salazar told the judge that Fierro made three different statements to police about how much he had to drink the night Tenorio was killed.
First, he denied having anything to drink, and then he admitted having two drinks before failing a field sobriety test, then after the test, said he had one drink, Salazar told the judge.
Salazar made several points to support his request for the Fierro’s $250,000 bond. He said Fierro’s car had two flat tires on the driver’s side and that police reported seeing heavy damage to the windshield on the passenger’s side as well as a “red substance” that looked like blood. Salazar said that police reported Fierro’s eyes were bloodshot and watery when they caught up with him, and that there was a strong smell of alcohol about him. Police reported that both Fierro and Lovato staggered.
Fierro was given a blood test but the results were not available at the court hearing.
The courtroom was packed with representatives from both sides and dozens more stood outside.
The judge attached several conditions to Fierro’s $250,000 bond: He was required to relinquish his passport, was forbidden to drive or leave Sante Fe County, and he will be under electronic monitoring with a Sobietor.
Dianne said she was satisfied with the outcome of the arraignment.
“We’re hoping for the best outcome from this investigation,” she said.
“It’s really hard. You never wish this on anybody you know or the Fierros, but he did it and that was his choice and what he has to go through, that’s the way the system is.”
An aunt and uncle of the Tenorio children have set up the William Tenorio Trust fund, to provide for the children’s education and other needs. Contributions can be sent to the William Tenorio Trust Fund, Wells Fargo Bank, 200 Lomas Blvd., Albuquerque, N.M.