Richard Lopez

A Safford man missing since July 9 was found dead in the Gila River Saturday near the 8th Avenue bridge.

Richard B. Lopez was last seen on Friday, July 9 and his family reported him missing on Monday, July 12, said Chief Glen Orr.

On Saturday, the Safford Police Department posted the following message on its Facebook page: “Thank you for those who kept an eye out for our missing person. He was found.”

Graham County Undersheriff Jeff McCormies elaborated Sunday, saying the sheriff’s office received a call around 5:30 p.m. from a couple who said they had found a dead man in the river bed west of the 8th Avenue bridge while four-wheeling. A truck was also nearby.

Deputies responded and realized the situation was likely connected with Safford’s missing person’s case and contacted SPD, he said.

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The remains will be taken to the Office of the Pima County Medical Examiner for an autopsy, McCormies said.

A local air ambulance service took an officer up Wednesday to try to locate Lopez’s 1993 Ford F150 without success, Orr said Thursday.

Reached Sunday afternoon, Orr said they believe Lopez’s truck got stuck in the sand, but the investigation is now being handled by the sheriff’s office.

The air ambulance search concentrated on areas near Mt. Graham because the Lopez family thought he may have gone there; the river hadn’t been searched, Orr said.

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