Police identify man in Animas River death

School creates website to support family of drowned 4-year-old girl

Steve Garrison
Members of the Farmington Fire Department swift water rescue team prepare to remove the body of Benjamin Armstrong, a 40-year-old Bloomfield man, from the Animas River on Monday.
  • Police say the body of 40-year-old Benjamin Armstrong was found Monday in the Animas River in south Farmington.
  • A police spokeswoman says that before Armstrong's body was found, several residents reported the man appear intoxicated.
  • School officials have created a website to raise money for the family of the 4-year-old girl who drowned in the Animas River on Monday.
  • A grief counselor is working with students at Discover Christian School in Farmington, where the late girl's older sister is a student.

FARMINGTON — Police have identified the man who drowned on Labor Day in the Animas River as Benjamin Armstrong, a 40-year-old Bloomfield resident.

An animal control agent spotted the man's body at 2:36 p.m. Monday in the river near 700 S. Miller Ave in Farmington.

A swift water rescue crew recovered the body at about 3 p.m. near the West Murray Drive bridge.

Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen said today that several residents had contacted the animal control agent before Armstrong's death to report the man appeared intoxicated.

The agent attempted to locate Armstrong, but he had already fallen into the river, according to Allen.

She said detectives were awaiting a toxicology report for the deceased man.

Meanwhile, a Farmington school has created a website to support the family of Emily Winer, the 4-year-old Aztec girl who drowned Monday in the Animas River.

May Oles, the principal of Discover Christian School, created the YouCaring website this afternoon.

San Juan County emergency personnel were dispatched at 5:07 p.m. Monday to the Animas River near County Roads 2626 and 2900 after receiving reports Winer had fallen into the river.

Emily Winer is pictured in this undated courtesy photo. The 4-year-old Aztec girl died after falling into the Animas River on Monday.

A San Juan County Sheriff's Office helicopter pilot found the girl at 6:29 p.m., and she was transported to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Oles said Winer's 6-year-old sister, Katie, is a student at Discover Christian School.

She said the school had a grief counselor at the school today to provide comfort to its 38 students.

"We followed her protocol, which was to speak solemnly and openly about what happened," Oles said. "And to talk about ways that the community gathers around those they love in hard times."

She said students created cards to send condolences to the Winer family and were brainstorming other ways to help.

She said she spoke with Emily's mother, who asked the school and its students to support Katie.

"That's the mom — that's her heart," Oles said. "Help Katie get through this."

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.