ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Central New Mexico Community College student from the Northeast Heights, who dropped his phone in the Highline Canal in Los Lunas and drowned trying to retrieve it, will be laid to rest today.
Matthew Mares, a 19-year-old Eldorado High School graduate who was studying culinary arts at CNM, died at 3 a.m. Saturday after trying to retrieve the cellphone he dropped while crossing the ditch on a small bridge, the Valencia County News-Bulletin reported.
Police officers were unsuccessful in trying to save Mares, who was with four friends when he slipped in. One of his companions threw him a rope to get him out, but it didn’t work, Los Lunas Police Lt. Naithan Gurule told the News-Bulletin.
Calls to Gurule and to other police officials were not returned Thursday.
“As far as I know, he dropped his cellphone into the water,” said his mother, Maggie Mares, who was reached by telephone Thursday evening at French’s Funerals and Cremation, where she and her family were attending the viewing.
“He went in to get it. It was the shallow part, and something just sucked him down.”
She said her son, a music lover, had pictures and recordings on his phone from dozens of concerts he had attended by artists including Tech-9 and Twisted, and must not have been able to fathom losing it. “Everything was on his phone,” she said.
“He was just being a kid, and made a mistake, something we can’t fix,” his father, Mark Mares, said Thursday, fighting back sobs.
One of the four friends, Justin Nieto, 19, originally from Los Lunas, as well as three other males between the ages of 18 and 25 from Albuquerque, had gone to the canal south of Main Street in Los Lunas together, according to news reports, which said the canal was about 7 feet deep and 35 feet wide.
His parents said they weren’t sure why they went to Los Lunas in general, or to the canal in particular.
“He didn’t go to Los Lunas often,” said Mark Mares. “It was one of his first times.”
At about 9 a.m. Saturday, the surviving friends returned to Albuquerque and went to Matthew’s parents house, thinking they were going to console them – only to find out that they were breaking the news because the parents didn’t already know.
“We talked to each one of them,” said Mark Mares. “Their hearts are broken. That’s it. Their hearts are broken.”
After the friends gave the news to the family, Los Lunas police arrived with a chaplain with the intention of breaking the news.
But since that visit, police have not provided the family with any additional details into their investigation, Maggie Mares said. “Since then we’ve heard nothing,” she said.
Both parents described their son, a middle child with an older brother and younger sister, as someone who made friends quickly from a young age. His father recalled a time when they went to the laundromat when Matthew was a child and struck up a random conversation with a patron. “He tells this lady, I was born on Feb. 21, and you’re invited to my birthday party.”
Mares’ funeral will be held at 9 a.m. at Shrine of St. Bernadette at 11401 Indian School NE.