Rafters find possible human remains in Río Grande Gorge

Sheriff's office investigates, considers recovery options

By John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 4/23/19

Miera and other county public safety agencies are familiar with recovering bodies from the canyon, as the steel suspension bridge that sits more than 600 feet above the river continues to attract jumpers every year …

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Rafters find possible human remains in Río Grande Gorge

Sheriff's office investigates, considers recovery options

Posted

Members of the Taos County Sheriff's Office looked into a remote section of the Río Grande Gorge on a rainy afternoon Tuesday (April 23). They scanned the curve of river below for signs of human remains, which rafters say they saw caught on a rock several miles downriver from the Río Grande Gorge Bridge.

"We can't make a visual confirmation, but once we do we can commence recovery efforts," said Taos County Undersheriff Steve Miera, standing alongside Detective Marvin Armijo and Sgt. Gilbert Atencio at the canyon's edge.

A Taos County dispatcher relayed a report of a possible "10-7" (the police code for "dead body") near the Río Grande around 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Miera said rafters reported the find once they regained cell service several miles downriver from the deeper parts of the canyon.

Miera and other law enforcement are always careful not to confirm such reports until they have all the facts. Similar sightings have turned out to be animal remains in the past, or not remains at all.

Still, Miera and other county public safety agencies are familiar with recovering bodies from the canyon. The steel arch bridge, which sits more than 600 feet above the river, continues to attract jumpers every year.

So far this year, however, Miera said no one has been confirmed to have jumped.

A little less than three weeks ago, a car belonging to Anthony Hildebrand, a Pennsylvania man who sent a suicide note to friends, was found at the rest area near the gorge bridge.

Hildebrand has still not been found.

A car belonging to Holly White, a Taos woman who also remains missing, was also found parked at the rest area near the bridge in May 2016.

Miera said rainfall on Tuesday and a lack of remaining daylight would push his investigation and the possible recovery to early Wednesday morning (April 24).

"Daylight is essential for a recovery operation like this," he said. "We don't want a recovery to turn into a potential rescue."

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