Texas National Guard soldier feared drowned trying to save illegal migrants smuggling drugs
A Texas National Guard soldier remains missing two days after he attempted to save a pair of migrants who appeared to be drowning as they illegally crossed the river from Mexico to the United States to smuggle drugs into the country. Many believe he drowned during the rescue mission.
The search for the soldier, who went missing Friday after entering a river in Eagle Pass to save the two migrants, carries on, the Texas Military Department said Saturday in a statement.
The soldier, whose identity has not been released, was assigned to Operation Lone Star, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s effort to combat the illegal immigration crisis at the southern border.
“The service member selflessly attempted to help two migrants who appeared to be drowning as they illegally crossed the river from Mexico to the United States.”
The two migrants were involved in illegal drug trafficking and are in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol, the department said.
“Brave National Guardsman removed his armor before jumping in dangerous waters to save a human life. Please pray for the families of all those impacted,” wrote Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, on Twitter.
Dive teams searched the water Friday, but the strength of the river’s current forced the search and rescue teams to cease dive operations, which resumed Saturday, Fox News reported.
The soldier is believed to have drowned in the Rio Grande, The New York Times said.
“It’s very dangerous, this river, the Rio Grande — it’s very tricky,” Sheriff Schmerber, a former U.S. Border Patrol officer, was quoted as saying.
The Texas Military Department said the search for the missing soldier will continue "until we have exhausted all available resources," adding: The Texas Military Department is thankful to all interagency partners for their continued support in this operation to locate our missing soldier. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of the soldier.”
Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Rangers and Border Patrol are also supporting the search efforts.
Drownings are not uncommon in the river, the sheriff said, adding that the drowning of a law enforcement officer is considerably more rare. “When I was in the Border Patrol, we advised never to jump after anybody,” he said.