Over 200 stranded on top of New Mexico mountains after storm cuts power to tram
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Dozens of people were stuck for hours on top of the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque, New Mexico, after taking the tramway to the peak Sunday night.
Roxanne Scheuer was one of the passengers stuck through the early hours of the morning. After only 10 minutes of exploring the top of the mountain, lightning forced her to run inside for safety.
“It’s terrifying. It’s terrifying to feel like your options of getting down are so minimal,” said Scheuer.
A thunderstorm led to a power outage in the northeast heights region of Albuquerque, knocking out power to the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway and leaving 210 people, including visitors and employees, stuck at the top where the weather was colder.
“Got to the top and immediately, right off the bat, [an employee] starts yelling ‘lighting’ and starts telling us to get indoors for your safety,” said Scheuer.
Scheuer, who went up with her family at around 6 p.m., said the lightning worsened and she was stuck at the top for over seven hours. The tram cars weren’t able to go up or down.
Scheuer said shuttle buses started to bring people back down to the city after about four hours, but she took the tramway back down once it was up and running again. She described it as a very scary 45-minute ride.
“It was kind of terrifying. We were just praying that ‘I hope it doesn’t stop,'” said Scheuer.
Many passengers weren’t prepared for the colder weather. Most didn’t have blankets or jackets with them.
“Every time a lightning struck and you heard it, people would get scared and gasp or feel terrified, like what’s next?” said Scheuer.
She said she thinks the company could improve on how they deal with these situations, including with better employee training.
“I just feel like if they were better equipped, whether it meant they had snacks in the emergency … or blankets like I had mentioned before or any number of those things to keep people better situated in that event. I feel like it could have gone a little bit better,” said Scheuer.
The general manager of Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway told KRQE that circumstances were out of their control, and the company did all it could to make sure guests were out of harm’s way while working with the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM).
According to PNM, the power outage in the northeast heights was caused by lightning damage to a power pole.
Sandia Peak did not offer the passengers refunds.