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Las Cruces schools superintendent struck and killed while walking dogs

Karen Trujillo, superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools, was reportedly struck and killed while walking her dogs on Thursday. She is pictured here answering questions at a news conference outside the Governor’s office in January 2019. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Las Cruces Public Schools superintendent was struck and killed while walking her dogs in a northern Las Cruces neighborhood Thursday evening, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.

The newspaper said relatives confirmed that the woman killed was Karen Trujillo.

Trujillo, 50, was a longtime educator and researcher who served briefly as the state’s public education secretary. She was elected to the Doña Ana County Commission in November 2018, but resigned that position shortly thereafter to become education secretary.

The Las Cruces Police Department has not released the name of the victim. An LCPD spokesman said both dogs were seriously injured and were being treated by a veterinarian.

Jessica Sanders, who met Trujillo when Sanders was named the 2019 New Mexico teacher of the year, called Trujillo an “outstanding woman, educator, and educational leader.”

“She was a true New Mexican… down to earth, friendly, compassionate, welcoming,” she said, adding that Trujillo’s husband was a coach and the couple loved kids and teachers and often invited teams to eat at their house.

“She saw that investing in teachers was investing in students,” Sanders said.

“… LCPS was lucky to have her. The educational community will miss her.”

She said she is praying for Trujillo’s husband and family.

The crash

LCPD said police responded to the crash around 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the 1200 block of Edgewood, north of Elks and Main, according to a post on the agency’s Facebook page. Officers learned a minivan was traveling west on Edgewood when it struck the woman, who was walking her dogs.

“The driver of the minivan remained on scene and has been cooperative with police,” the post states.

Police say the victim was taken to MountainView Regional Medical Center and was pronounced dead soon after.

“Las Cruces police will not publicly release or confirm the name of the victim until her family has been given the opportunity to notify relatives and close friends,” the post states.

LCPD is asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash to call police at 575-526-0795.

Trujillo was hired as superintendent of the Las Cruces district on Feb. 4, 2020. Prior to that, she had served as state education secretary, having been appointed to the post by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in January 2019. But Trujillo’s tenure as the state’s top education official was short lived. She was fired from the post six months later, with a spokesman for the governor citing communication and leadership issues.

Trujillo was a former classroom teacher and longtime researcher who at one time served as the director of the Alliance for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at New Mexico State University. She also had served as NMSU’s interim associate dean for research and research faculty.

She had also been a math teacher at Alma D’ Arte Charter High School in Las Cruces, a history teacher at Cobre High School in Bayard and a math teacher at Las Cruces High. Her education career also included stints as a principal, an adjunct professor and a community college instructor.

She had three children and was married to Ben Trujillo.

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