Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald
By Jon Johnson
GRAHAM COUNTY – The Graham County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a single-vehicle fatality that occurred in the 7900 block of Sanchez Road. The area is east of the Safford Regional Airport and north of the Gila River.
According to Graham County Undersheriff Jeff McCormies, a small compact car was discovered off the road in a thicket of Mesquite trees at about 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Upon inspection, authorities located a single occupant in the vehicle who was deceased. While a positive identification has yet to be made, authorities have a good indication of who they believe the victim is and have notified the next of kin of that possibility. That victim is believed to be 18-year-old Abram Mendez Jr., who had been reported missing. A moment of silence was held for Mendez prior to the start of the basketball game Tuesday night between Thatcher and Safford. Mendez formerly wrestled for Safford.
“It’s sad,” McCormies said. “Our hearts go out to the family like it always does. Even after all these years, these things don’t get any easier.”
The victim was transported to Tucson for an autopsy by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner.
McCormies said the Sheriff’s Office will continue its investigation to find out how and why the crash occurred.
“We still don’t have all the answers,” McCormies said. “We’re trying to piece it all together based on what’s out here physically and, obviously, we won’t have a majority of the answers until the autopsy is done.”
Assisting the Sheriff’s Office at the scene are members of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Safford Police Department, and Safford Fire Department.
This article was updated Wednesday morning.