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Swift-moving water claims life after rainstorm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Firefighters pulled a body from the Rio Grande near the Alameda Bridge following reports that a man was swept away in flash flooding from heavy rains Friday afternoon.

Albuquerque Fire Department Cmdr. Paul Dow said firefighters with the Corrales Fire Department spotted the body floating on the river Friday evening and alerted AFD, which assisted with the recovery.

Dow could not confirm the man’s identity or whether it is the same man who was reportedly swept away earlier as the body was no longer clothed.

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“That goes back to how violent the trip is down the flood channel,” Dow said. “Many times, we find people, at this point in the river, and they don’t have any clothes on.”

Firefighters had been attempting to rescue a man earlier after someone called 911 shortly before 4 p.m. reporting that he was caught in the rushing water in an arroyo near Green Jeans off Carlisle and Interstate 40.

“He described seeing a man that was screaming and that was in the arroyo,” Dow said. The man was reportedly around 40 years old, didn’t have a shirt on and was wearing a red scarf, according to the caller.

Firefighters set up along the arroyos within minutes, ready for a swift water rescue, Dow said. They remained there for more than an hour but didn’t spot anyone in the water. About 40 firefighters were involved.

Dow called the earlier rescue effort and body recovery a great response from all agencies involved, including the Albuquerque, Bernalillo County and Corrales fire departments, among others, even though the rescue was not successful.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t, but we were able to recover the body, and it didn’t float down the river,” he said. “It wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but we did have everybody in their positions in a timely manner to make sure that we were prepared.”

Dow reminded Albuquerque residents to stay out of the ditches when rain hits the city.

“The water is extremely powerful,” he said, “It does not have to be raining where you’re standing – it can be raining miles away and that water will eventually catch up to you.”

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Dow said when the water is up to 8 feet in arroyos it is running at nearly 45 mph.

“It’s extremely fast, and there’s no way you can overpower it,” he said. “It will push you down.”

He also told residents not to try to jump in and rescue people.

“The power of that water is too much for anyone without proper safety equipment,” he said.

At its height, the water in the North Diversion Channel was nearly 8 feet and poured over the guard rail to the bike path that runs under Osuna NE.

Chuck Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said some of the heaviest rain totals came from the foothills area, where a reported 1.5 inches fell and most of it between 3 and 4 p.m.

Jones said the heavy rainfall was due to an upper level disturbance coming out of the west and that the city can expect more rain today but those storms will not be as widespread or intense.




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