Sandoval County Fire Chief Dies in Car Accident

Sandoval County Fire Chief Dies in Car Accident
Sandoval County, NM
July 23, 2012

Chief Tibbetts, 59, was on duty, driving his county-issued fire unit at the time of the accident.

According to New Mexico State Police, Chief Tibbetts was traveling northbound on I-25 when another vehicle that had crashed into the concrete barrier in the middle of road careened back into traffic and struck Chief Tibbetts’ vehicle.

The other vehicle was driven by 22-year-old Armando Saenz of Albuquerque, according to state police. Saenz was taken to Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque. It’s not clear at this time what type of injuries he sustained. It also not clear what caused him to crash into the highway median.

The collision, which occurred just south of mile marker 239, near the first northbound exit for the Town of Bernalillo, caused the chief Tibbetts’ vehicle to flip over to the southbound side of I-25. Chief Tibbetts was pronounced dead at the scene.

No other details about the crash are available at this time. New Mexico State Police are continuing to investigate.

Chief Tibbetts had been Sandoval County fire chief since September 2004. He previously served as operations director for Albuquerque Ambulance Service.

During his tenure with Sandoval County, Chief Tibbetts was the driving force behind many major initiatives, including the building of new fire stations in Placitas and on the Santa Ana Pueblo.

“Chief Tibbetts was a great leader,” said James Maxon, Deputy Fire Chief and Sandoval County Fire Marshal. “He built the Sandoval County Fire Department into one the best in the state, if not the country.”

Funeral arrangements for Chief Tibbetts are pending.