Catron County – Seth Stephenson (16), of Chaparral NM and Noah Hooper (15) of Longmont CO were reported missing at 10:00 p.m. Sunday June 30, 2013 at the Quemado Lake, Quemado NM.
Both Seth and Noah were assisting with summer programs at the Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Camp. Neither Seth nor Noah were deaf or mute. A group of camp attendees and as well as Seth and Noah were bused to Quemado (Kea-mado) lake on Sunday, 6/30/13 at 3 p.m.
Seth and Noah were last seen around 4:30 p.m. Sunday evening at the deep end (west side) of lake. All children at the lake were informed to meet back up at the ramp area by 5:00 p.m. All reported back with the exception of Seth and Noah. At 10:00 p.m. both were reported missing. New Mexico Search and Rescue teams responded immediately. The New Mexico State Police Dive Team was also activated.
Quemado Lake is approximately six acres in size, situated in the rugged Cibola National Forrest range. The depth varies from three to sixteen feet.
From the morning daylight hours of Monday, July 1, 2013 to Wednesday, July 3; New Mexico Search and Rescue crews relentlessly searched the rugged mountain terrain surrounding the lake. The New Mexico State Police Dive Team aggressively and arduously searched every area of the lake utilizing a boat and sonar to search for anomalies in the water. The State Police Aircraft (ABLE 6) also assisted in the search via air. The State Police Dive Team searched the lake from sun up to sun down, Monday, Tuesday, and up to Wednesday afternoon.
On the Afternoon of Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. State Police Dive Team members located a male body at the west end of the lake in approximately fourteen feet of water. At 3:00 p.m., a second male body was located in close proximity to the first. Both were submerged at the bottom of the lake and covered by the muddy silt of the lake depths.
Both bodies were secured and taken to land. Based on the conditions of both, 100% identification will have to be determined by the Office of the Medical Investigator, located in Albuquerque NM. At this current moment, The New Mexico State Police will not release names until positive confirmation is made by OMI.
”The efforts of all parties involved in this search flowed flawlessly; unfortunately, these best efforts are sometimes waged by the reality of crestfallen outcomes…” Robert W. Shilling, New Mexico State Police Chief.
Recognition is given to the New Mexico Search and Rescue. NM SAR is comprised of volunteer teams that specialize in search efforts in the New Mexico terrain. They utilize their free time and personal equipment. Also to the New Mexico State Police Dive Team members who selflessly and fretfully searched the lake for copious hours; and the NMSP aircraft section. Gratitude is also given to the Catron County Sherriff’s Department, U.S. Forrest Service, and all media outlets for the continued coverage of this mission.
Contact: Sergeant Emmanuel Gutierrez