How Did The Car Go Over The Cliff Behind North Mesa Tennis Courts?

A car that has been below the cliff behind the North Mesa tennis courts since April 22. Photo Courtesy LAPD

A police photo of the damage to a 2009 red Mazda that lies at the bottom of a cliff behind the North Mesa tennis courts. Photo Courtesy LAPD

A photo of the car that was sent to the Los Alamos Reporter by a reader. Courtesy photo


The Los Alamos Reporter has received several readers ask for information about a car that appeared overnight April 22 at the bottom of a 20-foot cliff behind the tennis courts on North Mesa. One reader sent photos and noted that it must have been the most spectacular accident in Los Alamos in a long time.

According to Los Alamos Police Department records, at around 10:50 p.m. that night a resident flagged down Cpl. Natalee Trujillo near the North Mesa Dog Park and told her a young man had walked into the resident’s home on Sioux Street, sat down on his sofa and told him he had wrecked his car and needed help. Cpl. Trujillo’s report indicated that the man didn’t know where his car was and that he had climbed out of a canyon nearby somewhere.

Los Alamos Fire Department responded and transported the man to Los Alamos Medical Center. Cpl. Trujillo and Cpl. Lorenso Jaramillo began searching the area behind the North Mesa tennis courts. Cpl. Trujillo followed a path and began to find car parts on the ground, which she followed to a cliff, and saw the vehicle about 100 yards from the tennis courts at the bottom of the cliff. Trujillo said Cpl. Jaramillo climbed through dangerous terrain to make sure there was nobody else in the vehicle.

The report says the vehicle appeared to have been driven straight off the cliff “with no indications of stopping” and had been driven off the roadway on land where it was not permissible to drive a motorized vehicle. The man told Cpl. Trujillo at LAMC that he didn’t know if he was trying to harm himself but that he did intentionally drive off the cliff. He refused to sign a consent form for a blood draw.

Sgt. Eric Wilhoit’s report says medics told him the man said he was running away from home. The man admitted that he had driven off the cliff intentionally and that he had smoked “weed” before driving some two hours earlier by his estimation. He said the last road he remembered being on was “St. Francis”.

Police reports note that the car had caused damage to the fence on the east side of the stables next to the dog park, and that the car was driven through a dirt field next to the tennis courts for about 80-100 yards through brush and rocks to the 20-foot drop-off. Sgt. Wilhoit’s report said it was not plausible that any braking was applied during that course but that rather “acceleration must have been applied the entire time to reach the car’s resting place”.

Wilhoit said the Assistant District Attorney on call advised that no crime had occurred and no felony charge was applicable that would allow for a warrant for blood. The driver was to receive a summons from Los Alamos Municipal Court for careless driving, according to Cpl. Trujillo’s report.