NMDOT: 1 employee killed, 2 injured in work zone crash

SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Department of Transportation is grieving the death of an employee. State police say Mittie Runyan, 58, was killed in a work zone crash Monday on U.S. Highway 285, north of Artesia.

“This painful loss will reverberate statewide,” New Mexico Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval said. “We are a close-knit group, and we all grieve when we lose one of our own. Our deepest condolences go out to Mittie’s family who graciously shared her with us for 21 years. We are so sorry for the pain they must be going through. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.”

Runyan and her maintenance crew based in Artesia were placing reflectors on a newly-resurfaced stretch of road when the crash happened.

According to state police, Runyan was driving a NMDOT truck with her safety lights flashing when her vehicle was struck from behind by a commercial vehicle. She was airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas where she was declared deceased.

Authorities said two other NMDOT employees working outside the truck were injured and transported to area hospitals for injuries. According to state police, their conditions are not known.

“I’m saddened by this tragedy. My officers have a close working relationship with NMDOT, and our thoughts go out to the entire NMDOT family” said Tim Johnson, chief of the New Mexico State Police. “NMDOT crews place their lives on the line every day while working to keep the roads in New Mexico a safe place for everyone traveling our roads.”