Two brothers who were part of the ownership group of the popular Ribs Restaurant in Cedar Crest were killed last week when a semi truck plowed through their Moriarty blacksmith shop.
The accident happened about noon on Thursday November 9th when the semi swerved off of eastbound I-40, careened across more than 200 yards of underbrush and barreled all the way through the shop, killing brothers Chad and Brad Gunter, said Torrance County Undersheriff Stephanie Reynolds.
The investigation is ongoing, she said, and details remain slim as to what caused the driver to go out of control, although Reynolds added she did not think it was the result of an accident on the interstate.
The driver, whose name has not been released, remained in an Albuquerque hospital, she said.
The deaths have left the community distraught, said family friend Crystal Franco.
“The East Mountain community has suffered a tremendous loss due to an unthinkable, tragic accident,” she wrote on the fundraising website givesendgo.com. “But even more than that, a family is suffering. We lost not only cherished community members, business owners and friends, but a husband, a father, brothers, sons, uncles. Those who know the Gunter family and their extended family know what truly amazing people they are.”
The goal for the fundraising effort was $100,000, but by midweek it had already exceeded that at $118,000.
Now temporarily closed, the restaurant on NM 14 has been a fixture in the community for some time, a place not only known for its tantalizingly good, hearty food, but as a gathering place.
For instance, State Rep. Stefani Lord had planned a December meeting there to discuss with local constituents her goals for the upcoming legislative session in January. That meeting is now on hold.
“I’m devastated not only for the loss of two great people but also for their family and their children,” Lord wrote on X (Twitter). “So many tears have been shed over this shocking tragedy. There is a huge hole in our community. Ribs isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a place where everyone feels like family.”
Tanya Pearcy, who works at B&R Construction near the blacksmith forge, said she has known the Gunters for some time.
“They were super, amazing, wonderful men,” she said. “Honest and fun. Fierce in their beliefs and in their families and friends and really, really good people.”
The brothers were also well known for the blacksmithing skills, something that was passed down from their father, Robb Gunter.
“In honor of Brad and Chad’s memory, several initiatives have been launched within the community,” wrote Linda Morris for fhmemorialobits.com. “Local organizations and individuals are collaborating to establish scholarships, endowments, and apprenticeship programs for young individuals interested in pursuing careers in carpentry and craftsmanship. These initiatives aim to keep Brad and Chad’s passion for their craft alive while providing opportunities for others to follow in their footsteps.
The extended Gunter family has been trying to cope with the tragedy while also being mindful of their employees, Franco wrote.
“Less than 24-hours after losing two loved ones, the remaining owners were concerned about how their staff was coping,” she wrote. “They asked about how the kids they employ are doing. Even while their hearts and worlds are completely shattered, they are still concerned about their extended Ribs family. I know in my heart that every single Ribs employee will be ready to step up and help this family re-open the business but in the meantime, their employees are also heartbroken, healing, and will also need some assistance in making ends meet.”
The brothers leave behind a void that will be difficult to fill, Morris wrote.
“Brad and Chad’s legacy isn’t limited to their remarkable workmanship; it extends to the positive impact they had on those around them,” she wrote. “The brothers were well-liked and respected for their genuine kindness, their humble demeanor, and their willingness to lend a helping hand whenever needed. Many locals have shared stories about the brothers’ generosity, recounting how they would often assist those less fortunate or offer advice and mentorship to aspiring craftspeople.”
The Gunter brothers are survived by their parents, Robb and Bunty Gunter. Chad Gunter also is also survived by his wife, Veronica Gunter, and their two sons.