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19-year-old Santa Fe man drowns at Abiquiú Lake

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The body of a 19-year-old Santa Fe resident was found in Abiquiú Lake on Wednesday morning, a day after he drowned.

The Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office received a call around 4:20 p.m. Tuesday that someone had drowned at the lake. Deputies and rangers of the Army Corps of Engineers searched for the body until around midnight, said Capt. Lorenzo Aguilar, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office.

The New Mexico State Police dive team arrived early the next morning and soon found the body of Marques Barrazas of Santa Fe.

Aguilar said Barrazas was at the lake with friends who were swimming to a point in the lake far from the shore and back again. Barrazas had trouble reaching the shore.

“Two of his friends jumped in to try and assist him to get him to shore, but were unsuccessful and he went under,” Aguilar said in a phone call Wednesday.

Although the official cause of death has yet to be determined, Aguilar said it appears to be an accident.

The drowning came days after the Corps of Engineers reopened parts of Abiquiú Lake to vehicle traffic on May 16. Since then, the lake has been packed with visitors almost every day, Abiquiú Operations Project Manager John Mueller said.

Mueller said Barrazas and his friends were swimming in an area near Cañones that Corps rangers don’t patrol because it borders private land. That lack of supervision can cause problems.

“I would say that (that area) has potential to be unsafe,” Mueller said. “It’s not a Corps of Engineers day-use area with park rangers that we can manage and control.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for rangers to ensure visitor safety, especially as hundreds of people crowd the shores of the lake, Mueller said.

“I’ve got to make sure my staff is protected before they can protect anybody else,” he said.

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