Aztec High School English teacher killed in car crash, another injured
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FARMINGTON — Aztec High School staff and district officials are mourning the death of a teacher and praying for the recovery of another teacher severely injured in a vehicle crash this week along U.S. Highway 550 just south of the Colorado and New Mexico state line.
English teacher Amy Huaman was killed, and fellow English teacher Cynthia Mortensen was severely injured in a crash which occurred before 9 a.m. on July 17, according to a post on the Aztec Municipal School District Facebook page.
Area first responders were called to the scene around 8:52 a.m., which led to traffic in both directions initially being shut down due to the crash.
The New Mexico State Police is handling the investigation into the crash.
New car crash details
Some details emerged a day after the crash. Huaman was driving a 2006 Toyota Scion, which was traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 550 when it made a U-turn at the intersection of County Road 2105 and 550, state police announced on July 18 .
The Scion was struck from behind by a 2018 Kia Soul that was traveling southbound on the highway.
Huaman was pronounced dead at the scene and Mortensen was flown from the scene with injuries believed to not be life-threatening.
The 23-year-old male driver of the Kia did not have any injuries but a passenger of his was injured. The press release did not state their names or the passenger's injuries.
Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash and seatbelts were properly utilized.
The state police Crash Reconstruction Unit is assisting in the investigation.
School district responds to tragedy
Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter told The Daily Times district officials will do what they can to help support the families of the teachers.
"The biggest thing is our thoughts and prayers are with the families," Carpenter said.
Emails were sent out to Aztec high staff, students and parents regarding the incident.
The district dispatched counselors to Aztec High School from 1 to 4 p.m. on July 18 to provide support for staff, students and families.
Carpenter stated that the district is applying lessons learned from providing support following the Dec. 7, 2017, school shooting to ensure staff and students will be taken care of at the start of the upcoming school year and beyond.
Amy Huaman remembered
Huaman was described by Aztec High School Principal Warman Hall as a very loving person who came to the high school during a time of critical need.
The position Huaman took over in October 2017 had been open for more than a school year and was being taught by a substitute teacher.
"She came in and wanted to fill the position," Hall said.
Huaman quickly established her classroom and became a major member of the English teaching team at the high school.
Hall stated Huaman was an involved member of her local church community and would organize group outings with her fellow English teachers.
Huaman had recently become friends with a district employee who recently immigrated to the United States and had been helping her learn to speak English.
Hall said Huaman brought the woman into her home as a friend and they had been recently attending church together.
"Aztec High was blessed by Amy Huaman's presence," Hall said. "We send our love and sympathies to friends, families and former students for the loss of her."
Hall has been working with teachers and staff to keep in contact with Mortensen's family and they have received a lot of requests from students to send "get well" cards to her.
Aztec high staff will collect anything to be delivered to Huaman's and Mortensen's family.
Those who were unable to make it during the counseling time frame on July 18 can contact mental health coordinator Glynnis Maes at 505-334-3695.
A brown dog named Foxy was in the vehicle with Huaman and ran off after the crash.
Aztec Animal Shelter Director Tina Roper said the shelter has not received reports of the dog being located.
Roper said the sheriff's office alerted the animal shelter about the dog's disappearance.
Anyone with information on the location of the Foxy are encouraged to call non-emergency dispatch at 505-334-6622
Reporter Hannah Grover contributed to this story.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.