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FARMINGTON — Law enforcement officials believe a Farmington man was killed by a backhoe falling on him before the man and the vehicle fell off a cliff.

Robert Bruce Childers died this morning, according to detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies were dispatched at 9:28 a.m. to a location near 1078 County Road 3000 east of Farmington after receiving reports that a man in his 70s was pinned under a backhoe near the edge of a mesa facing the Animas River, Lincoln said.

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Lincoln said Childers was working on his property when the backhoe he was using started to slide off the cliff.

Childers jumped out of the backhoe, but he became pinned under the vehicle, according to Lincoln.

The backhoe tipped up and was sitting perpendicular to the ground when deputies arrived at the scene.

Deputies were unable to secure the vehicle due to its location, according to Lincoln. 

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The backhoe then fell about 40 to 50 feet onto a dirt road, dragging Childers with it. 

Lincoln said the sheriff's office believes Childers had been killed by the backhoe before he fell off the cliff.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator is currently investigating the scene and will determine the official cause of death.

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