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Body under Rio Grande Gorge bridge identifed as state Senate aide’s

SANTA FE, N.M. — A body found Sunday beneath the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge has been identified as that of Tommy Sanchez, 46, of  Santa Fe, State Police said. It’s believed he took his own life, police said. State Police, with the assistance of Taos Fire and Rescue, hiked down to the body.

Sanchez was identified as an attendant for the Senate sergeant-at-arms office, the Senate president’s office said.

The bridge 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.

The bridge, located about 10 miles northwest of Taos on U.S. 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 bridge, which was renovated 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.