Fallen firefighter was experienced, cautious

Posted at: 09/06/2013 10:04 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Jemez wild land firefighter Token Adams was climbing a steep hill with an ATV during firefighting efforts, when the vehicle overturned backward.

The findings of a New Mexico State Police investigation of the crash site were confirmed to KOB Eyewitness News 4 Friday night.

After a week of focused searches on the ground and in the air, search crews announced they found him dead late Friday morning beside the crash site.

Adams was found beside his ATV, deep in the rugged Jemez Mountains, northwest of Jemez Springs.

Adams leaves behind a 3-year-old son and a pregnant wife.

When crews found Adams, he was wearing full protective gear.

All who knew him say he was an experienced firefighter and knew his surroundings well.

"Just due north of (the crash site) he spent 3 or 4 weeks managing a fire up in that very area," said Joe Reinarz, with the SW Area Incident Management Team.

For a wilderness firefighter, in an unforgiving land, even the beaten path is a far cry from predictable.

"There's a lot of roads up on those mesas, but those roads aren't in very good shape, they're not maintained," said Reinarz.

Adams had navigated those treacherous roads before, and always with caution.

"He was not a daredevil or anything like that when it comes to ATVs," said Reinarz. "If he could be on a road, he stayed on the road."

But Adams' body was found alongside his crashed ATV about a quarter mile from a Stable Mesa access road -- searchers had passed through the very same area in the past week as teams combed  from day to night.

It wasn't until a team on foot fanned out into the area that Adams was found, wearing full protective gear.

"He was very conservative in the use of the ATV," said Reinarz.

Through a SW Area Incident Management Team investigation, Reinarz says Adams displayed a history of caution, and lost his life off the beaten path, on his way to help...

"As far as him doing something wrong, I don't think it happened," said Reinarz. "I think this was a very tragic accident."