Body found beneath gorge bridge

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A body was found Sunday beneath the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which has been the scene of numerous suicide jumps since its completion in 1965.

New Mexico State Police Sgt. Chad Pierce said two hikers reported what they believed to be a human body on the southwest side of the bridge about 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Officers confirmed the finding, saying the body was found near one of the bridge’s support pillars.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, State Police had not released the sex of the person or whether it appeared they had jumped from the bridge.

The bridge, located about 10 miles northwest of Taos on U.S. Highway 64, sits 565 feet above the Rio Grande. It is the seventh highest bridge in the United States.

Taos County officials estimate that approximately six people a year commit suicide by jumping off the steel deck arch bridge, which underwent renovation in 2012.

In August, Gov. Susana Martinez announced her plans to have the state Transportation Department install 10 telephones at the bridge, and to have the phones connected to crisis counselors with the New Mexico Crisis Access Hotline. The move was designed to offer assistance to people considering jumping from the bridge, Martinez said at the time, adding that she expected the phones to be installed by October.

Transportation Department spokeswoman Melissa Dosher said Sunday that, because of the limited availability of specialized equipment needed by the contractor to install the phones, their installation has been delayed until mid- to late December.

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