RESERVE, N.M. (KRQE) - Deputies in western New Mexico say they have found the body of a man who appears to have died from recently flooding.
A family is still holding out hope that the body found downstream of Mogollon is not their loved one. Deputies said hikers found a man's body Saturday evening, downstream from where an 83-year-old man went missing.
The Catron County Undersheriff said the man found appears to have been swept away in floodwaters, a week after Howard Bassett was last seen escaping floodwaters in Mogollon.
Hikers stumbled on a man's body in a sandbar, downstream of Mogollon off of the San Francisco River near Alma, New Mexico.
"When we had the flooding event almost eight days ago, a lot of debris, not only trees, but the sand itself coming down from the wash had built up," said Ian Fletcher, Catron County Undersheriff. "The water had receded just leaving the sand, and that's where this gentleman was located."
Fletcher said the man's identity has not been confirmed, but the situation leads him to believe it's very possible they found Bassett.
"He'd been exposed probably since he's been missing, so we're looking for a seven to eight day period," said Fletcher.
Fletcher said the man found appears to be older, and suffered trauma consistent with being washed downstream.
New Mexico State Police Search and Rescue used ground crews and a helicopter to comb the area.
Bassett's truck was found buried in mud near Mogollon Thursday, but there was no sign of him. The search was called off Friday night.
Catron County officials said the floods that filtered through Mogollon last week brought with them up to eight foot walls of water.
Some of destruction left roads impassable. "For a vehicle or a person to be in the water, they would be taken down stream, I don't think they'd have much of a chance of crossing these drainages when they were running," said Fletcher.
Fletcher said Sunday that Bassett's family has been contacted, though they want to hold out hope.
"Given that we've had one person reported missing, and this one located I would say chances are it's likely its Mr. Bassett, we're going to wait on the Medical Investigator's Office to confirm that," Fletcher said.
Bassett was supposed to leave Mogollon, then head to Springerville, Arizona before he was evacuated last weekend.
Bassett's daughter came from Arizona to help with the search. As of Sunday night, deputies are waiting on OMI to determine the identity and cause of death of the body found.
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