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CBP's Tucson Air Branch Helps Recover Missing Family

Release Date: 
September 6, 2013

TUCSON, ARIZ.—A Customs and Border Protection air crew from the Tucson Air Branch, as well as agents from the Willcox Border Patrol Station, assisted the Cochise County Sheriff's Office with the recovery of a family lost in the desert of southeast Arizona.

The Sheriff's Office requested air support to help locate a family reported missing for nearly two days. Apparently, according to reports, the family was hiking across the Willcox Playa and became disoriented.

Just after midnight this morning, a fixed-wing crew from the Tucson Air Branch launched a mission to help locate a family from a residential area on the southwest corner of the playa. The crew focused their search along the dry lakebed. After establishing an orbit in the vicinity of a local power plant around 2:40 this morning, the crew spotted a jeep with their forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera and some "hot spots" that appeared to be bodies. The crew then circled the jeep and confirmed the presence of an adult, four children and two dogs.

The air crew directed a county search and rescue team to the location. An Arizona Department of Public Safety paramedic with the team conducted a medical assessment of the family and determined none were suffering from any serious medical conditions.

The family said they had been trying to make it back to their home and sought shelter in the abandoned jeep. They also said they found the two dogs during their trek across the playa.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021