Body of missing hiker found in the Sandia Mountains

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque police announced Sunday they had located the body of missing hiker Gibran Hernandez-Avila. At this time, the 40-year-old’s death is being ruled as accidental.

The search for Hernandez-Avila, missing in the Sandias since last Sunday, continued early Saturday morning with about 80 people. Crews focused their efforts at the top of the mountain, looking north and south of the Crest Trail when something caught their attention.

“One of my search teams saw, something blue off the next canyon over, next crest over from the canyon they were at,” said Bob Rodgers, Search and Rescue Resource Officer for New Mexico State Police. A search team rappelled down and discovered a backpack and clothing which had Hernandez-Avila’s wallet and cell phone.

“That’s what gave us our quick data, now we’re in the right area,” Rodgers, said. “We flew a UAV, a drone, into the area and the UAV was able to locate our missing subject just downhill, further downhill over another cliff of where the clothing items were at.”

It comes after some long days of searching with no answers. Hernandez-Avila posted a video of his hike and Rodgers says sent a video of him on La Luz Trail to his girlfriend on Sunday, and she didn’t hear from him since.

“We came back with nothing. No signs no clues, nothing. We did that for three days,” Rodgers said.

Search teams got the momentum they needed when getting new cell phone data which confirmed Hernandez-Avila made it to the top of La Luz Trail and kept hiking. “That actually now shifted a lot of things,” Rodgers said.

The new data is what eventually led them to Hernandez-Avila. Rodgers said he was about 1,000 feet from the main Crest Trail. “It’s mixed emotions. Of course, we always wish we could find them alive…just the simple fact that we did locate them…that’s you know, also good for us. Because, you know, family closure, that kind of thing,” Rodgers said.

The search was a multi-agency effort including APD Open Space, APD Missing Person’s Unit, New Mexico State Police, and its Search and Rescue Team. People came from all over the state including Las Cruces and Silver City to help with the search.

Hernandez’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.

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