On the evening of Thursday, June 27, James Garley’s life changed forever.
Bleeding from four stab wounds to the chest, the 27-year-old Los Lunas man threw himself onto a passing vehicle driving down NM 47.
Garley doesn’t know the woman who used her cell phone to call 911 and save his life, but he wants to thank her.
“Everybody stopped, and traffic was backed up,” recalls Garley. “I remember lying there. Two guys had hurt me, but people all around me were doing what they could to help a person in need.”
The nightmare began at approximately 5:30 p.m. when two men entered the fireworks stand where Garley was working on Lujan Road and NM 47.
Garley, who is an employee of the Village of Los Lunas Parks and Recreation Department, had been working at the stand for three days. “He spent the night there and watched TV,” recalls his father, Gilbert. “His friend had left the tent to go and get James something to eat.”
Recovering at the home of his parents in El Cerro, James recounted what happened on that dark summer night in June.
James had just finished totaling a customer’s purchases and the patron acted as if he was about to take money out of his pocket. At that moment, the man pulled out a knife and stabbed Garley in the chest.
“That’s when I felt a sharp and instant object cut into my chest,” Garley recalls.
James tried to get out of the tent and go for help, but the two men were determined not to let him get away.
“They were fighting with me pretty bad, but I was going to get out of there,” he said.
“I jumped over the table and made my move to run towards the opening in the tent. The other one, who was standing at the end of the table, slashed my arm. I pushed him. That’s when the man went down and sliced me open. I tried to turn and run the other way, but one of the men grabbed my neck and slashed me two more times.”
Determined, Garley somehow managed to escape. With blood pouring down his chest, he jumped the ropes outside the tent and sprinted towards the Valencia Y shopping center.
“My wounds were so severe that I got dizzy and nauseous.” Garley could hear the men shouting about making their get-away. They fled the scene with an undetermined amount of money and Garley’s cell phone.
No one would stop as he walked down the highway, so Garley decided to throw himself on the next car that drove by.
Waiting for paramedics to arrive, the people who stopped to help Garley got towels for his head and talked to the young man while holding his hand.
“I want to thank the people who stopped that day,” Garley said, with tears in his eyes. “The ones I didn’t know, the faces I do and don’t remember. Thank you for helping me. To all of you reading this, I want to say thank you. They brought me back to my family.”
James is glad to be home after surviving emergency surgery for stab wounds to his heart, lungs and chest, as well as a slash across his arm.
“Because of the wounds to his heart and lungs, his chance of survival was slim,” Gilbert says. “The people who stopped to help saved our son’s life — without their support, he wouldn’t be here today. It’s hard to imagine not having him with us. He has a long road ahead of him.”
James also wants to thank his family for supporting him through the horrible ordeal. “To all of my family who came to visit me in the hosptial, you kept me going. Family and friends — they’re the ones who kept me alive with their prayers and hopes.”
The Garley family is sending a personal plea to the community to help catch the two men who hurt their son.
“We plead for the residents of Valencia County to come forward. Anyone who saw something, please call the police,” Gilbert said.
“These two men risked so much. Life is priceless. They were there to take his life. It was their intention to rob and kill our son.”
Garley’s mother, Esther, adds, “It’s hard. As a parent, it’s hard. You don’t want anyone else to hurt like this. It’s amazing what people will do when they want to help. We have to do something to get these people off the street. Somebody out there knows something.”
So far, the Los Lunas Police Department has not received any leads in the case.
“We haven’t got any calls on it,” said Lieutenant Detective Charles Nuanes. “It’s frustrating because James was the only one there. If anybody knows anything, please get a hold of us.”
The Los Lunas Police Department is searching for two men, one in his late teens, 5-feet-9-inches to 5-feet-10-inches tall, with black hair. The second man is described as having the same physical features but is approximately 5-feet-5-inches to 5-feet-6-inches tall.
“We have a vehicle that was seen fleeing the area. Possibly a mid-’80s model Ford pickup truck longbed, last seen traveling southbound on Highway 47,” Nuanes said.
Anyone with information regarding the stabbing is encouraged to contact the Los Lunas Police Department at 865-9130.