US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Severe Weather and Harsh Terrain Claims 3 Lives

Release Date: 
February 11, 2020

MOUNT LAGUNA, Calif.—U.S. Border Patrol agents rescued two people who were lost near the Cuyapaipe Indian Reservation in San Diego’s east county after they entered the county illegally yesterday.  Unfortunately, three other people who were with them died after all lifesaving efforts were exhausted.

 

On February 10, at approximately 2:15 p.m., California Highway Patrol (CHP) 911 operators notified Border Patrol dispatch of a group of five people in need of immediate medical attention in the Laguna Mountains.  San Diego Sector agents, including the Border Search Trauma and Rescue team (BORSTAR) reacted immediately.  As they neared the area, agents began searching to locate the group in the remote and rugged terrain.

 

With temperatures dropping, BORSTAR agents located two men from the group, later identified as Mexican nationals who admitted to entering the U.S. illegally.  The two men stated three females from the group were in desperate need of medical attention.  At approximately 5:06 p.m., with the aid of an Air and Marine Operations (AMO) helicopter, agents were able to locate the women.  Two of the women were found unresponsive with no signs of life.  BORSTAR agents quickly triaged them both and attempted to resuscitate the two, to no avail.  The third woman was in and out of consciousness, prompting agents to start life saving measures.

 

Local partners also responded to aid agents, but due to the inclement weather all rescue efforts were fruitless and all lifesaving attempts were exhausted.  The three females succumbed to their injuries, the last person died at approximately 7:26 p.m.  Weather conditions did not permit any successful hoist attempts and all other viable extraction options were not feasible.

 

Today, February 11, if the current weather allows a safe recovery, agents will attempt to extract the three deceased people via helicopter.

 

The two Mexican men, ages 22 and 37-years-old were arrested for illegal entry and taken to a nearby station for processing and evaluation.  The three deceased females will be turned over to the Coroner’s Office once they are recovered.

 

“This incident that resulted in the tragic loss of lives was totally avoidable,” stated San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “We have said it many times, do not place your life or the lives of your loved ones in the hands of ruthless smugglers.”  Chief Heitke continued, “I am proud of the heroic efforts that these agents and our partners made to locate and provide aid to those in need.  Our agents also put their own lives at risk traversing the dangerous routes that these criminal organizations smuggle people through in an attempt to avoid apprehension.”

 

To prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on corridors of egress away from our Nation’s borders.  To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.

Last modified: 
February 11, 2020