21 people rescued from stranded tram cars after 15 hours
21 employees of both the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway and the mountaintop restaurant TEN 3, were rescued Saturday after they had been trapped in two tram cars for 15 hours.
The tram cars got caught up in bad weather as the employees tried to leave the peak Friday evening.
In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Michael Donovan, who is the general manager of Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway said a mixture of humidity and low temperatures lead to the icing over of the e-cable.
The e-cable is used to transport a carriage to the tram cars for maintenance. But in this case, it was weighted by ice and twisted over track cables, leading to the stoppage.
Once weather permitted, rescue crews climbed the second tram tower and came through the roof hatch of one of the cars. The occupants of the car were then repelled down to the mountain surface and shuttled off by a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office helicopter.
When the first car was cleared, crews then moved to recuse the lone tram employee that was trapped in the second tram car.
The second rescue proved to be more difficult due to the location of the tram car, stuck between the second tower and the peak. Crews had to “inch” the car little by little in order to get in closer to the second tower. The last employee was rescued at 4:15 p.m.
The rescue crew was a joint effort by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, Bernalillo County Fire Department, and the New Mexico State Police.