NMDOT worker killed on the job along Highway 285

New Mexico News

ARTESIA, N.M. (KRQE)- A New Mexico Department of Transportation worker was killed on the job Monday, Dec. 6 in a crash in southeastern New Mexico. The incident happened around noon on Highway 285 between Artesia and Roswell just north of the turn-off to Lake Arthur.

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According to the family, Mittie Runyan was killed while working on a construction project. The 58-year-old was a wife, mother, and grandmother. The grieving family she leaves behind wants this to serve as a lesson and reminder to drivers to be careful on the roads. Runyan’s family says she always talked about the dangers of the job and how drivers need to be more careful.

Mattie Henson received a call that her mother Mittie was hurt due to a crash. New Mexico State Police say two NMDOT crews were working in the right lane of Highway 285 near the Lake Arthur turnoff installing reflectors with their flashers on when a semi-truck rear-ended the truck Runyan was driving. The impact pushed her truck into a second NMDOT truck in front of her.

Two NMDOT employees who were outside that truck were able to jump into the bed as the crash happened. They were rushed to area hospitals but their injuries were not as severe as Runyan’s who died shortly after being airlifted to a Lubbock hospital.

Henson says her mother was a kind and hard-working soul who always strove to better her community. She says her mother always talked about how so many drivers were careless while they were out working. There is a law requiring drivers to move over a lane when NMDOT workers or first responders are on scene, but few follow it.

Runyan’s family has a message for everyone so no one else feels this heartbreak. “Watch out. Pay attention to anybody that’s out on the highway even if it’s anybody broken down.”

Runyan worked for NMDOT for 21 years. Her family says she often worked in the office but when she was needed in the field she didn’t hesitate to go out and work with the crews.

Police say they will be pursuing charges against the 45-year-old semi-truck driver. NMDOT reminds drivers about that the move over law, you can face a fine of $117 if you violate it.

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