- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on the death of New Mexico Health Secretary Retta Ward (all times local):

1:00 p.m.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department says New Mexico Health Secretary Retta Ward’s death in a single-car accident was not due to physical trauma and may have been linked to a medical episode.

Sheriff’s department spokesman Juan Rios said Thursday that Ward was found alone and unresponsive in a Toyota Camry that apparently had veered off a road on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Rios says the accident on Buckman Road was not violent and that the car carrying Ward went down an embankment came to a rest.

He says there was no apparent physical trauma. Attempts to revive the 62-years-old Cabinet secretary were unsuccessful as she was transported to a local hospital.

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12:10 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she is heartbroken by the death of Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward.

Martinez issued a statement Thursday without hours of Ward’s death in a car crash.

The governor says Ward worked with a passion and quiet confidence since joining her administration in 2011 as secretary of the state’s Aging and Long-term Services Department. Ward was tapped to lead the Health Department in 2013.

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11:45 p.m.

The New Mexico Department of Health says Secretary Retta Ward has died in a car crash.

Health spokesman Kenny Vigil says the crash happened Thursday morning but he did not release any details, saying only that the secretary succumbed to her injuries.

He recalled her as an exceptional leader who was passionate about improving the health of all New Mexicans.

He said department employees were heartbroken about the news.

Ward was tapped to lead the department by Gov. Susana Martinez in 2013. She had previously served as secretary of the state’s Aging and Long-term Services Department.

Before that, she managed the arthritis program for the Arizona Department of Health Services and worked as a health educator for Albuquerque Public Schools.

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