SILVER CITY, N.M. — Two Silver City residents died while attempting to cross a creek in the southwestern New Mexico city, authorities said.

James Morales (Chamo), 47, and Laura Ortega, 57, were found dead Saturday in an arroyo east of the crossing where they attempted to cross, Silver City officials said.

Police and firefighters found the bodies while investigating an abandoned white car stuck in the San Vicente Arroyo, the Silver City Sun-News reported (

Officials discovered that the car lodged up against the north side of Highway 180 belonged to Ortega and called her home. Ortega’s family told officials that they tried to call her cellphone but could not reach her. The family reported Ortega missing after she did not show up to work.

Searchers found Morales half a mile (0.8 kilometers) south of where the car was located while they were searching for Ortega. Her body was found about three hours later near the Highway 90 S bridge.

The pair was returning from a concert at the Flame Convention Center when they attempted to drive past the arroyo crossing, according to a preliminary investigation.

It is unclear who was driving the vehicle and whether they attempted to get out of the car or were washed out by the fast-moving water.

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