On Wednesday, October 10, 2023, at approximately 11:20 a.m., Texas National Guard personnel observed a large group of suspected migrants crossing the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas. A soldier with the Texas National Guard advised U.S. Border Patrol agents via service radio that several migrants were struggling to stay afloat and were being swept away by the river’s current. The National Guardsman also observed and advised several migrants went under water.
Border Patrol agents from the Eagle Pass South Border Patrol Station, including a station marine boat unit, were dispatched to the area to assist at approximately 11:21 a.m. The station airboat unit was parked just down-river from where the group was crossing and immediately responded to the area. Agents operating the airboat encountered several undocumented migrants in the Rio Grande and began rescue efforts.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., after rescuing all visible migrants in distress, agents maneuvered the airboat through floating debris (consisting of backpacks and items from the group), to continue searching for additional people. The agents operating the airboat located a male undocumented migrant at approximately 11:32 a.m. who was unresponsive and floating amongst the debris. The agents recovered the man from the Rio Grande, placed him on the airboat, and initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Border Patrol agents requested emergency medical services via service radio transmission at approximately 11:33 a.m. Agents maneuvered the airboat to the U.S. riverbank and additional agents continued CPR while assisting the man off the airboat. The man was later transported to the hospital where he was provided further medical treatment.
Agents operating the airboat maneuvered back through the floating debris at approximately 11:34 a.m. and continued searching for additional people. At approximately 11:35 a.m., they discovered a female undocumented migrant, later identified as a citizen of Honduras, who was unresponsive and floating amongst the debris. Agents on the airboat recovered her from the river and began administering CPR. She was taken to the U.S. riverbank and, with the assistance of Texas National Guard personnel, was taken off the airboat and placed on land where agents continued CPR. Agents requested EMS for multiple unconscious people at approximately 11:35 a.m.
Eagle Pass Fire Department arrived on scene at approximately 11:55 a.m. and took over medical care of all undocumented migrants in medical distress. The woman was still receiving CPR when Eagle Pass Fire Department personnel loaded her into the ambulance. The fire department transported her to Fort Duncan Regional Medical Center in Eagle Pass, Texas, at approximately 12:36 p.m. Agents provided patient escort to the hospital in a marked Border Patrol vehicle.
Eagle Pass Fire Department arrived at the medical center at approximately 1:10 p.m., and the woman was treated in the emergency room while Border Patrol agents established hospital watch. Agents conducting hospital watch were informed by medical center personnel that the female succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased at approximately 7:10 p.m. The medical center advised the Border Patrol an autopsy would not be conducted.
On October 11, 2023, Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility (CBP OPR) conducted witness interviews of undocumented migrants who were present during the incident. All witnesses stated the large group of migrants were holding hands when they crossed the Rio Grande River and, as the river became too deep, migrants let go of hands and some began getting swept by the current. The migrants stated they were not being pursued by Border Patrol personnel at the time of the incident though agents did take lifesaving action once they arrived on scene.
This incident is under review by CBP’s OPR. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the Honduran Consulate were notified.