Albuquerque man behind fatal crash still missing year later

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It's now been a year since a man convicted of street racing and causing a crash that killed an Albuquerque father of six never showed up for sentencing.

Prosecutors told KRQE-TV on Friday that they are far from giving up on locating Francisco Reyes Merlos.

“We will find him. I can assure you that. It may not be tomorrow or the next day. We have leads. We will pursue this investigation," Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman said.

Reyes Merlos “will absolutely” be charged with new crimes.

Reyes Merlos was sentenced in February 2022 to four years in prison after entering a plea deal in the death of Travis Dehart. He had faced vehicular homicide and other charges. The judge allowed him to leave after he promised to turn himself in the following month.

Authorities say Reyes Merlos was street racing in April 2019 when he crashed into Dehart and his 15-year-old daughter. The father was teaching the teen how to drive.

Police say Dehart was killed instantly. The daughter was injured but survived.

Investigators say Reyes Merlos was doing 89 mph (143 kph) down a city street.

Before Reyes Merlos left the courtroom that day, he had apologized to Dehart's family.

“I’ve since then matured, and I’m no longer that kid from three years ago, speeding up and down Montgomery,” Reyes Merlos said at the time.