Game wardens rescue snowbound motorists

SANTA FE – Game wardens rescued three men stranded in the mountains of northern New Mexico with no food or water after their truck got stuck in the snow on a remote forest road.

The men had gone for a drive in the nearby Santa Fe National Forest after attending a funeral March 27 in Abiquiu, said Conservation Officer Wyatt Harwell. The weather was warm and sunny when the men, one from California, another from Arizona and the third from Abiquiu, set out in a two-wheel-drive Dodge pickup truck. The group drove out of Abiquiu and into the forest on Polvadera Road, intending to emerge at the village of Cañones and return home on a paved highway.

The dirt forest roads were clear and dry until the men took a wrong turn and ended up on a seldom-traveled two-track road designated on maps as a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle route. The men descended a steep incline and tried to push through a snowbank at the bottom in hopes of reaching Cañones.

The truck got stuck and the men, two of whom were wearing shorts and light jackets, stayed inside the vehicle as night fell and it began to snow. The following day, two of the men walked out, leaving the California man behind as he was suffering from shortness of breath and dizziness. The men walked to an area where they found cell phone reception and called 911 for help, Harwell said.

Harwell and fellow game warden Logan Eshom were dispatched and discovered the two men walking along a snow-covered road. Harwell helped retrieve the pickup while Eshom drove the ill man out of the mountains to a waiting ambulance. The patient recovered quickly once he was out of the woods. He apparently had succumbed to the mountain altitude and stress, Harwell said.

Harwell suggested motorists always carry emergency supplies such as food, water, a sleeping bag, shovel and tire chains when venturing into New Mexico’s remote back country.