ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Rain and lightning have halted the recovery efforts of a person who died after what fire officials are calling an accident in the Sandia Mountains. Bernalillo County Fire has confirmed that one person has died near the Sandia Crest after falling more than 100 feet while rock climbing.
Around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, an intensive search began. A person rappelling off the Clandestine Wall on the north side of the Sandia Crest between mile marker 11 and 12 had fallen about 140 feet.
“They got on scene and realized it was out of our capabilities or hiking or rappelling,” said Marcelino Martinez with BCFD.
Bernalillo County Fire says when they arrived on scene and were able to get eyes on the victim, it was too late and that the efforts quickly turned into a recovery involving serval different agencies.
A county fire spokesperson says when search and rescue crews arrived on scene they could see the victim but even with the helicopter, its rescue specialist couldn’t get to the person safely.
People out on the trails Saturday were shocked when they heard about the news. ” It’s crazy. It’s really scary. We’ve been up here several times and never heard anything like this happening,” said visitor Beth Johnston.
BCFD says the hiker was with a group of people at the time.
“These people were doing everything right. They had their safety lines. It was all the right equipment, it was just an incident where an accident happened,” said Martinez.
The spokesperson could not say when the last time someone has died hiking or rappelling off the Sandia Mountains. Detectives with New Mexico State Police are also involved in the investigation into what happened.
BCFD says that crews will be back around the mountain around 9 a.m. Sunday to resume the recovery effort. At last check Sunday evening, authorities are still continuing their recovery efforts.