LAS CRUCES, NM- Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Karen Trujillo died Thursday evening after being struck by a vehicle while walking her dogs, her family confirmed Thursday night.
Las Cruces police responded at approximately 5:30 p.m. to the report of a vehicle crash on the 1200 block of Edgewood Avenue in Las Cruces. According to police, a Nissan Quest minivan traveling west on Edgewood struck Trujillo, who was transported to Mountain View Regional Medical Center and pronounced deceased shortly thereafter.
The driver, the sole occupant of the minivan, was reportedly cooperating with police. Witnesses to the crash were asked to contact investigators at 575-526-0795.
The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed, police said.
The two dogs Trujillo was walking were seriously injured and transported to a local veterinarian’s office, police said.
Rumors soon spread online Thursday that the victim was Trujillo, and sources acquainted with the family and neighborhood confirmed to the Las Cruces Sun-News that she perished in the crash.
In her year as superintendent, Trujillo also led the district through a cyber attack that crippled the district’s digital systems and then through the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced public schools to close and move to remote learning on short notice.
During the final two years of life for the beloved educator and mother of three, Trujillo navigated an array of surprising twists and turns.
She had been a classroom teacher, a school principal, and an administrator at New Mexico State University (where she had earned three degrees, Then, in 2018, she was elected to the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners, running as a Democrat. Shortly after taking office, the board elected her to be chairwoman.
She only served 27 days in office before newly-elected Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tapped her to head the state Public Education Department, and she was unanimously confirmed by the state Senate.
After six months on the job, Trujillo was abruptly let go, a move Trujillo said came as a surprise.
“I felt like I did everything I could to turn the table about changing the conversation of what education and educators are in our state and how much they deserve to be valued and the leadership team at the PED will continue to do that,” she told the Las Cruces Sun-News at the time.
Soon after moving back to Las Cruces, and after Ewing’s departure, the school board tapped Trujillo, well known in the community, to right the ship. When the board approved a two-year contract for her as superintendent, board member Terrie Dallman remarked that Trujillo had brought “calm to the district” at an uncertain time.
Trujillo left the university at the beginning of 2019 as an interim associate dean for research at NMSU’s College of Education and research director for the college’s Alliance for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning.
Las Cruces City Councilor Gabriel Vasquez, writing on Twitter, called Trujillo’s passing “a tragic loss for our community, our students, and the state of New Mexico.” Full credits Las Cruces Sun News

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