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New Mexican reporter dies in helicopter crash; Photojournalist had love for skies, stories

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Bob Martin (Photo courtesy KRQE)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

CORONA – A KRQE News 13 helicopter pilot with more than 40 years as a reporter, photojournalist and pilot flew for one last time Saturday shortly after covering a football game in Roswell.

According to the station’s website, the helicopter crashed around 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the area of Corona.

At 5:14 p.m. Saturday, the New Mexico State Police were notified of a downed aircraft. Authorities said officers later arrived at the location to discover remnants of a news helicopter along with its sole occupant.

Robert Franklin Martin, 64, of Albuquerque, sustained fatal injuries during the crash and was pronounced deceased on scene by the Office of the Medical Investigator.

Carl Christiansen, public information officer for the NMSP, said the National Transporation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were called to the scene to proceed with the investigation.

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Martin graduated with a journalism degree from Eastern New Mexico University and had worked for KBIM in Roswell.

He later worked for KRQE in Albuquerque for more than 20 years. He often shot, wrote and edited his own stories.

Mike Jaxson, news director at Pecos Valley Broadcasting in Artesia, said he worked with Martin about 35 years ago at KGRT, a radio station in Las Cruces.

“You’d find him at a lot of places, going to a lot of meetings, and he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty,” Jaxson said. “I believe at that time as well, he was doing some part-time work for Channel 7 in Albuquerque, and I remember one of the big stories that he went to cover – President Reagan was in Roswell – I want to say some time in ’82.

Jaxson said Martin acted as a mentor for many journalists, sometimes even going over video footage shot-by-shot with fellow reporters and offering advice.

“In our line of work with journalists like Bob, he was a perfectionist,” Jaxson said. “He made sure his facts were right and he wanted to be very accurate. If the station across town had some breaking news, and they had it run before, Bob didn’t worry because Bob wanted to get it right.

“Being around him kind of planted the news bug in my ear, and I credit him and of course I credit some other people along the way.”

Jaxson said the “Bob Martins of the world” that taught journalists like him are either out or trying to get out of the business and moving on to something else.

“With all the technology we have these days, guys like – I don’t want to say guys like him are a dying breed – but they are,” he said. “Bob was very special, a very hardworking man.”

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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