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AMO Agent Leads Rescue of a Girl from Flash Flood in El Yunque National Forest

Release Date: 
July 23, 2019

FAJARDO, Puerto Rico – An off duty CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Marine Interdiction agent (MIA) led the rescue of a young girl swept up by a flash flood in one of the river streams of the “El Yunque” National Forest Saturday.   

A picture of the child as the river rages down in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

“The training and quick response of the agent saved the day for these youngsters,” stated Johnny Morales, Director, Air and Marine Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch.  “Our agents are vigilant even off duty.” 

On July 20, an MIA from Jacksonville unit, assigned temporarily to the Fajardo Marine unit, descended after a hike to a popular swimming area of the forest, noticing that a flash flood had engulfed a group of three young girls. Two of the girls managed to get to shore downriver and a third girl was able to climb onto a rock in the middle of the raging river, in obvious distress due to the strong currents and rising water.


The MIA took the lead in the rescue effort giving his knife to a teenage boy directing him to climb a tree and cut down a rope swing.  With the help of other bystanders, they used the rope swing and towels to makeshift rescue line. 


The MIA secured the rescue line to a tree upriver, directed the group to make a human chain, and passed the rope down the chain, until they made contact with the girl. The MIA directed these efforts for nearly two hours until a successful rescue occurred. 

The girl was visiting Puerto Rico with her family from San Diego, California.

AMO is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities.  With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft, and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond the border, and within the nation's interior.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021