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Top NM official 'shocked' after running over body
NM secretary of state 'shocked' after her car is among several that struck man's body in road
By The Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) ' New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran's car was one of several that struck a man's body on a highway near Santa Fe shortly after the pedestrian had been hit and killed by another vehicle, police said Friday.

Because the pedestrian was in a lane of traffic, no drivers are facing charges, according to Santa Fe police Capt. Aric Wheeler.

In a statement, Duran expressed her "thoughts and prayers" to the family of the victim, a 46-year-old man whose identity has not been released.

Wheeler said the man was killed Thursday night while walking along a dark section of state Route 599 northwest of Santa Fe. He was in the center of one lane of the divided, four-lane highway when he was struck by a car and apparently killed. Vehicles behind that car, including Duran's, then ran over the body on the road.

Several cars, including Duran's, were being examined by police as part of their investigation.

Wheeler said it's uncertain how many cars that struck the body didn't stop because the drivers were unaware they had hit a man. Police are asking motorists to contact authorities if they were driving on the road between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The driver of the car that initially struck the pedestrian did stop after the accident, Wheeler said.

Duran said she was on her way home at about 7:30 p.m. when she ran over what "appeared to be an animal that had been struck" on the road. The speed limit there is 55 mph.

Ken Ortiz, the secretary of state's chief of staff, said Duran stopped a short distance down the road to ensure her car was running properly. She continued home after she checked the car's instrument panel to look for any problems such as overheating and then saw other cars return to the road after they had pulled over in front of her.

As Duran was driving to her home in southwestern Santa Fe, another car ' not a police car ' followed her for a while and flashed its headlights, but Duran decided it was safer to go home rather than pull over, Ortiz said.

After arriving at home, police were called and Duran learned what had happened.

"I am sure other drivers have been just as shocked and saddened as I have been to learn what had actually taken place in this tragedy," Duran said.

Duran, a former state senator from Tularosa in southern New Mexico, became secretary of state in January and is the first Republican elected to the position since 1928.

Wheeler said toxicological tests will be performed to check whether the pedestrian had been using alcohol or drugs. He said there was no indication of impairment by any of the drivers police talked with, including Duran.

Wheeler said Duran was cooperative with police but emotionally "shaken up" after learning a man had been hit.

New Mexico has among the nation's highest rates of pedestrian deaths. Only six states and the District of Columbia exceeded New Mexico in 2009 in the number of pedestrians killed per 100,000 people, according to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


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