21 people rescued from stranded aerial tram in New Mexico in New York

The 21 people aboard two aerial streetcars in New Mexico were rescued after the cars stuck 85 feet in the air due to frozen cables, leaving passengers to spend the last hours of 2021 and the first of 2022 at wait for help.

The incident took place at the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque as temperatures reached freezing on Friday night. Bernalillo County Fire Department deputy operations chief Brian Rose told a press conference on Saturday that they received a call around 2 a.m. on Saturday about the stranded streetcars.

Lt. Robert Arguellas, spokesperson for the fire department, told The Associated Press that 20 of the people in one of the streetcar cars were workers at the mountain top restaurant and the streetcar system. They were heading for the mountain after the end of their shifts. The other streetcar car had a streetcar employee heading up the mountain for a night security shift.

Brian Coon, an official with the streetcar system, told KOB-TV that there was an unusually rapid build-up of ice on one of the cables that caused it to sag under the streetcar.

Colleen Elvidge, one of the stranded passengers, posted photos of the interior of the streetcar in a Facebook post on Saturday morning and said they had been stranded since 9 p.m. on New Years Eve.

Search and rescue officers arrived at the scene in the morning and first provided passengers with blankets, food and water before rescue efforts began around 1:45 p.m. ET, Arguellas said. .

To rescue all 20 people in a single car, Arguellas said operators were able to move it to a nearby support tower more than halfway up the mountain.

A rescue helicopter works to assist passengers who were stranded overnight on a Sandia Peak streetcar on Saturday January 1, 2022, in Albuquerque, NM

Crews used ropes and other equipment to lower stranded workers to the ground before escorting them to a nearby landing area on the steep, rocky terrain where the tower stood, and the tram was cleared. at 6 p.m. ET. The 20 people were then transported by helicopter several at a time to the foot of the mountains.

Arguellas said the second car with an employee on board was higher up the mountain and at a location where the car was too high to lower people with ropes. The winds and low visibility also afflicted the rescuers. He said the tram system was able to lower the second car along the cable to the support tower rescue site, and rescuers then used ropes to lower the remaining person an hour later.

“What an incredible effort from everyone involved,” Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

“Happy New Year, everyone is safe and we are grateful for the positive result,” the department said.

Contribution: Associated Press

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