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Taos County recovery crew retrieves body from Rio Grande Gorge

April 28, 2019 GMT

TAOS — A Taos County recovery crew pulled a body from the Rio Grande Gorge on Thursday afternoon that rafters discovered in the river earlier this week.

The body has not yet been identified.

The Taos County Sheriff’s Office had scanned the curve of river Tuesday in a remote section of the gorge for signs of a body that rafters had said they found caught on a rock several miles downriver from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

But rainfall Tuesday and lack of remaining daylight delayed the investigation.

“Daylight is essential for a recovery operation like this,” Taos County Undersheriff Steve Miera said Tuesday. “We don’t want a recovery to turn into a potential rescue.”

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

Miera acted as incident commander for the recovery effort, which was carried out by members of the sheriff’s office Special Response Team, Taos Search and Rescue, and the Bureau of Land Management.

The multiagency crew rafted from John Dunn Bridge several miles downstream to where the body had been caught up on the west bank of the river.

Miera said there have been no confirmed suicides at the bridge this year. A little less than three weeks ago, however, 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 not been found.

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

This story first appeared on the website of The Taos News, a sister publication of the Santa Fe New Mexican.