Freedom employee killed in car crash

By Tonya Fennell: Freedom Newspapers

Co-workers rarely recalled seeing Steve Aguilar around the Clovis News Journal office without an ear-to-ear grin or baseball cap atop his clean-cut brown hair.

They also recalled his passion for sports.

“I’m a (Chicago) Cubs’ fan,” CNJ Circulation Sales Manager Shaun Lynch said, “and he (Aguilar) was an L.A. Dodgers’ fan, so I heard about it if his team won.”

Aguilar, 46, was killed about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday when the pickup he was driving collided with a sport utility vehicle driven by Dennis Johnson, 35, of Clovis. The accident occurred at the intersection of Wheaton Road and Curry County Road 13.

Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher said Aguilar died at the scene.

Johnson was treated at Plains Regional Medical Center for cuts and bruises and released.

Aguilar had been employed with the Clovis News Journal for a year as district manager in the circulation department. He was delivering papers at the time of the accident.

Johnson is an Air Force staff sergeant stationed at Cannon Air Force Base and was on his way to work when the collision occurred. He is married to CNJ reporter Sharna Johnson.

CNJ Circulation Director Rusty Galloway said Aguilar was a hard worker who felt a sense of accomplishment in completing his tasks.

“If he said he was going to do something then he did it,” Galloway said.

“I never had to worry.”

Galloway said Aguilar had taken a well-deserved long weekend prior to the accident, traveling to Lubbock to visit his brother and attend his 16-year-old daughter’s high school soccer game.

“He (Aguilar) said he had a really good time,” Galloway said.
CNJ Circulation Manager Leon Watson said he respected Aguilar for his ability to remain calm in a crisis.

“He will be sorely missed,” Watson said. “I considered him a friend.”
Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico Publisher Ray Sullivan said Aguilar’s death has impacted the lives of many.

“This is a double tragedy for the Freedom (Newspapers of New Mexico) family as well as tragedies for the Aguilar and Johnson families,” Sullivan said. “We are working to make sure that we do everything for our people to see that they are cared for, and we ask our friends and customers to pray for these families.”

Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico includes the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune.

Sheriff Hatcher said the initial investigation indicates Johnson was traveling west on County Road 13 and failed to yield at a posted stop sign.