SUV driver killed as good Samaritan, truckers stop abusive boyfriend

| 5/3/2007

Two truckers stopped to help a pregnant woman who was being assaulted on the side of a New Mexico highway last week.

Two truckers pulled over and stopped on Friday, April 27, after seeing a man running over a woman with his pickup alongside U.S. 84 near Espanola, NM.

The driver of an SUV, Michael Rutkowski, also stopped but was struck and thrown more than 50 feet by the pickup as he ran to try and protect the woman.

“As he was running to help the girl, he was struck,” said Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Deputy Freddie Trujillo. “It killed him.”

The woman is OK, Trujillo told Land Line, and the Sante Fe New Mexican reported that her unborn baby was unharmed.

The New Mexican reported that truck drivers Brian Peterson and Ronnie Greene stopped to help the woman.

Trujillo told Land Line that one of the men pulled the woman to the step of his rig to keep her from being struck again by her raging 23-year-old boyfriend.

Christopher Branch, 23, has been arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder and aggravated battery on a household member. Branch is in jail in lieu of $1 million bond, Trujillo said.

Branch told police he’d been drinking all day.

Rutkowski was an engineer with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexican reported.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer