- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) - Authorities say a Gila National Forest Service worker in southwestern New Mexico likely died in a fall while horseback riding.

The Silver City Sun-News reports (https://bit.ly/1n8YfKH) New Mexico State Police have ruled the death of 62-year-old John Kavchar an accident.

Kavchar was last seen Saturday by his girlfriend before he left to go riding in an area where the Signal Peak Fire had been burning last month.

Searchers found his body and that of the horse the next day.

Police believe because they were on a steep slope, the animal fell on Kavchar and both died from the fall.

Kavchar had served as a lookout for 15 years.

Forest employees say he was the first to spot smoke from the Signal Peak Fire, which started May 11.

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