A mysterious situation is unfolding after an abandoned car was found buried under a massive pile of logs and debris on a mountain road outside Pagosa Springs.
“It’s very strange,” said Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus. “There’s nothing about this that makes any sense.”
Hosselkus said a passerby spotted a part of the car, a silver 2014 Toyota Camry, sticking out through the debris pile on Aug. 13 and reported it to law enforcement.
The car was located up West Fork Road (Forest Service Road 648), about 15 miles north of Pagosa Springs, but located in Mineral County, right before U.S. Highway 160 starts to climb Wolf Creek Pass.
Investigators talked to neighbors, but nobody had seen anything unusual in the past few days and weeks. A host at a nearby campground said the car couldn’t have been there more than 10 days.
“It doesn’t sound like it was there that long under the debris,” Hosselkus said.
To make matters more unusual, Hosselkus said he believes heavy machinery was used to bury the car.
“It’s just crazy that could be done, and no one could see it,” he said. “That’s just weird to me.”
Nothing was found inside the car to help investigators determine what might have happened. Hosselkus said the vehicle, which is in good working order, is in the Sheriff’s Office’s possession.
Fortunately, the car still had its New Mexico license plates, so authorities were able to easily identify the owner as Gabriel Max Baldonado of Albuquerque, who is in his early 40s.
But in the days since, authorities have been unable to locate Baldonado.
Hosselkus said investigators were able to reach his family, but Baldonado has been estranged from his family and they haven’t talked to him in years and didn’t know his whereabouts.
The Mineral County Sheriff’s Office is now working with law enforcement in New Mexico to help track down any recent bank, credit card or cellphone activity.
And on Friday, authorities will scour the area with dogs in search of a body.
“I think everything’s on the table right now, and foul play is always an option, as weird as this is,” Hosselkus said. “Most people don’t just go out and bury their car.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at (719) 658-2600.