21 People Rescued After Being Stuck Overnight In Aerial Tram In New Mexico

The riders spent a harrowing New Year's Eve in two tram cars dangling in the air on the Sandia Peak Tramway.

Twenty-one people had to ring in the new year stuck inside a pair of tram cars dangling high above a mountainside at the edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico, after icy conditions jammed the Sandia Peak Tramway.

The cars, which were carrying tram employees as well as staff from the restaurant at the peak, got stuck around 10 p.m. local time Friday due to ice forming on the tramline, Albuquerque news station KRQE reported. One car was filled with 20 passengers, while the other car had one lone rider.

On Saturday, news station KOAT’s Kalyn Norwood shared an onlooker’s photo that showed a tram car hanging above a frosty ridge near one of the tramway’s towers.

Tramway general manager Michael Donovan told KRQE Saturday morning that rescuers had to wait for weather conditions to improve to begin evacuating people safely.

As of Saturday evening, all 21 people had been successfully rescued after hours trapped on the tramway, the Bernalillo County Fire Department announced on Twitter.

Rescuers had to scale a tower near where the cars were stuck and lower the passengers to safety using a rope system, Spencer Moreland of New Mexico Search and Rescue told The New York Times. The helicopter then transported people down to the base of the mountain a few at a time.

Prior to the rescue, a woman in the more populated tram car posted photos of people huddled with space blankets.

The Sandia Peak Tramway is a popular tourist attraction that takes riders up to the highest point of the Sandia Mountains ― an elevation of 10,378 feet ― in a trip that normally takes about 15 minutes.

An image of the Sandia Peak Tramway in May 2006.
An image of the Sandia Peak Tramway in May 2006.
AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf

The tramway’s website states that it will be closed Saturday and Sunday.

Popular in the Community