JEMEZ PUEBLO, N.M. – A firefighter missing for a week in a rugged New Mexico forest was found dead Friday atop a mesa, where he apparently had crashed his ATV, officials said.
Token Adams, a 41-year-old U.S. Forest Service fighter who disappeared Aug. 30 while checking a report of smoke, was found in a remote area not far from a road at about 11:45 a.m. Friday, authorities announced at an afternoon news conference.
Hundreds of volunteers, firefighters, search and rescue teams and the Civil Air Patrol had spent the past week been combing some 50 square miles of mesa tops and steep canyons east of Jemez Springs for Adams.
State Police spokesman Manny Gutierrez said Adams appeared to have been killed in a crash of his ATV, but authorities declined to speculate on whether he died immediately or how long he had been dead.
They said he was found by searchers using grids to cover the remote area.
Despite the rugged terrain, searchers had remained hopeful of finding him alive because Adams, who grew up on the edge of the Sierra National Forest in California, was an experienced outdoorsman with extensive survival skills.
Adams, a Navy veteran and a former member of the Kings River Hotshots in California, had worked for the Forest Service for about 10 years. He worked in the Jemez Ranger District in northern New Mexico for more than a year and officials said he knew the area well.
He is survived by his pregnant wife and a young son.
Gov. Susana Martinez sent her condolences to the firefighter's family.
"Token is an American hero, and he died in the way he lived: serving and protecting us," she said, adding that she also wanted to thank "every single man and woman who refused to quit looking until they found Token."