Rescuers find flood victim’s body

Rescue crews make their way back to their vehicles after a woman’s body was recovered near the North Diversion Channel washout near 4th Street and Roy on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (Robert Browman/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Firefighters pulled a woman’s body from the end of a diversion channel on Wednesday after she was swept down an arroyo during a Tuesday rainstorm.

The woman was found in the same washout where the bodies of three men were recovered last week after a similar downpour flooded arroyos.

“We try and relay the message as often as we can to stay out of and away from the arroyo systems, especially when there is a heavy weather system moving in – we all know what that can cause,” Albuquerque Fire Rescue Lt. Tom Ruiz said. “I think more than anything else, it’s just unfortunate that four victims … weren’t able to get out.”

Ruiz said that around 1:15 p.m. rescue crews were searching the washout on an airboat when they found the woman’s body. He said a man who was caught in an arroyo during the same storm was able to “walk out” near Washington and Cutler NE.

The Albuquerque Police Department searches the North Diversion Channel washout at 4th and Roy in Albuquerque, NM on July 27, 2021. (Adria Malcolm/For The Albuquerque Journal)

Sgt. Chris Schroeder, with Albuquerque Police Open Space, said 911 callers reported that the woman, along with a man, were getting “their belongings and backpacks” out of an arroyo near Wyoming and Harper when she was overtaken by the floodwaters.

After last week’s deaths, Schroeder said, he called an AFR lieutenant “immediately” as they saw storm clouds rolling in on Tuesday to prepare for a possible rescue operation and have officers head to nearby arroyos to warn anybody inside them.

“So we could hopefully do a rescue over recovery. I mean, that’s the end goal is to save lives,” he said. “… We’re trying to make that response more efficient and expedite those resources to where it can be a rescue.”

Schroeder said crews were already preparing for the next potential incident.

“Our team went to go fuel up the boat to make sure we’re ready for that next one,” he said as clouds billowed against the Sandias in the distance. “That weather hits quick and without a lot of warning sometimes.”

Schroeder said he hopes Wednesday’s recovery is the last of the season.

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