Written by Officer Ray Wilson 12/07/2021
Chaves County, NM – On December 6, 2021, at around 10:30 a.m. the New Mexico State Police, investigated a fatal crash involving two New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) pickup trucks and a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) pulling a tanker trailer.
The initial investigation indicated that two NMDOT trucks were working in the right lane of southbound U.S. Highway 285 at about milepost 82, north of Artesia, NM. For reasons still under investigation, a southbound 2007 Peterbilt CMV, driven by a 45-year-old male rear-ended a 2020 NMDOT Chevy Pickup. The 2020 Chevy was driven by Mittie Runyan, 58, of Artesia. The impact pushed the 2020 Chevy into a 2012 NMDOT Chevy pickup driven by a 46-year-old NMDOT employee. Two NMDOT employees, a 24 and 57-year-old who were working out of the back of the 2012 Chevy, were able to jump into the bed of the truck as the crash happened.
Mittie Runyan suffered severe injuries in the crash and was airlifted from the scene to a Lubbock, TX hospital. She was later pronounced deceased at the hospital. The two NMDOT employees working outside the truck were both transported to area hospitals for injuries sustained in the crash. Their conditions are not known. The driver of the 2012 NMDOT truck was uninjured. The driver of the CMV was uninjured and will not be named until if and when charges are filed.
“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.”
The New Mexico State Police urges drivers to keep their full attention on the roadway while driving. When you see flashing lights on the road, please slow down and move over.
Alcohol is not believed to have been a factor in this crash and seatbelts were properly worn by all drivers. This incident remains under investigation by the New Mexico State Police with assistance from the New Mexico State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit and Drone Team.