Frank Maes was driving the hairpin turn of N.M. 4 at mile marker 49 when things started going wrong.
Before he knew it, he and his International flatbed truck, loaded with 2,000 gallons of yellow and white striping paint, were plunging over the side of a steep mountain pass.
Maes was lucky.
In fact, soon after his truck, or what was left of it, came to a stop 200 feet below in the Bandelier National Forest, Maes, 51, of Willard, who had been on the job for three months according to his co-workers, got out of his cab and started crawling back up the mountainside.
“As he was going over, he told me he thought he was going to die,” Maes’ wife Karen said. “But something … I think angels were watching him.”
According to Karen, Maes suffered no internal injuries or broken bones, just a laceration on his calf, a massive bruise on one of his hips and a sprained ankle.
Maes was on his way down the mountain Tuesday morning to rendezvous with the rest of his crew when the accident happened. His mission was to deliver the load of paint to the crew.
“He just ran out of brakes, he said he had no more brakes,” Karen said.
Soon after he got out of the cab, a passing motorist noticed Maes and called police.