First responders’ relay race honors 4 lost in Metro 2 helicopter crash

First responders face off in Metro 2 memorial relay

The four first responders lost in the Metro 2 helicopter crash last year were at the center of a relay race Saturday from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s been a little over a year but many in New Mexico are still feeling the pain of losing four Bernalillo County first responders.

Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Larry Koren, Lt. Fred Beers, Deputy Michael Levison, and Bernalillo County Fire Department Rescue Specialist Lt. Matthew King died when their “Metro 2” helicopter crashed July 16, near Las Vegas, N.M.

First responders from across the state came together Saturday to honor those fallen heroes. More than 100 of them rain in a relay race from Santa Fe to Downtown Albuquerque. Each first responder ran 3-4 miles. 

It might seem like just a competitive rivalry among first responders. However, Saturday’s relay race goes much deeper than that.

“Seeing all of us in unity, as far as law enforcement, is a big deal for all of us. It also helps with the healing process that we’re still going through, just to show unity, and also to stay in shape for our jobs,” BCSO Sheriff John Allen said.

BCSO and BCFR are still mourning, after losing four of their own last year.

“Captain King was working in our fire training academy. He was definitely an advocate for physical fitness and getting out there. That meant doing things and interacting positively with the community. To do something that kind of reflects some of those same values really is an honor to him,” BCFR Lt. Robert Arguelles.

“We want to make sure they’re all honored and they’re never forgotten. This is our best way to do it. This is our way to hold arms and be together in one and compete on a friendly basis,” Sheriff Allen said.

First responders formed six teams: BCSO, BCFR, New Mexico State Police, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Navajo Nation Police Department and Albuquerque Ambulance Service.

“Well, this is actually my fourth year doing it. There’s a lot of competition. It’s really competitive and we’re trying to take it home this year. We’ll see what happens,” NMSP Patrolman Fernando Lopez said.

They previously called the relay race the “Corona Cup” when BCSO challenged APD back in 2020. Since then, they’ve turned it into a way to honor their fellow first responders.

In addition to honoring the Metro 2 victims, all proceeds from the race will go to the Capeless Heroes Foundation.

“All of our proceeds go to financial education and support professional development. We have a dedicated focus on mental health, fitness and PTSD. So, any need that a first responder has, we just really want to help them thrive in their critical, crucial roles,” said Meredith Autry, the CEO and founder of the Capeless Heroes Foundation.

During the closing ceremonies, officials honored the fallen first responders’ families were honored and reminded them they’ll never be forgotten.

Navajo Nation Police won the relay.

If you’d like to learn more about the Capeless Heroes Foundation, click here.