On Sept. 1, 2023, at approximately 5:15 a.m., Border Patrol agents assigned to the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, Border Patrol Station encountered a group of 22 undocumented migrants staged at a warehouse near the Union Pacific Intermodal Terminal in Santa Teresa. Multiple undocumented migrants informed agents during field interviews that an unresponsive woman had been left behind at approximately 8 p.m. the previous night near New Mexico Highway 9. Agents then began to search the trail on which the undocumented migrants had been traveling to locate the missing woman.
The agents encountered an unresponsive woman at approximately 9:48 a.m., face down in the sand, north of mile marker 139 on New Mexico Highway 9, approximately 10 miles from where the group of undocumented migrants was apprehended. Agents requested assistance from emergency medical services and Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) agents. A CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Blackhawk helicopter broadcasted over the radio at approximately 9:50 a.m. that they were responding to the location with BORSTAR agents onboard. The agents attending to the woman reported at approximately 9:51 a.m. that she appeared to be in her mid-20s, and was unresponsive with labored breathing and a weak pulse.
The CBP AMO helicopter arrived on scene at approximately 10 a.m. and BORSTAR agents medically assessed and began treating the woman. BORSTAR agents reported the woman’s skin was hot and dry and her eyes were unresponsive to light. BORSTAR agents applied cool water and ice packs to reduce the woman’s core body temperature and determined the woman required elevated care. BORSTAR agents placed the woman on a transport litter and loaded her onto the CBP helicopter.
The CBP helicopter arrived at University Medical Center at approximately 10:15 a.m. and agents transferred care of the woman to medical personnel.
The woman was admitted to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit where agents established hospital watch. Agents attempted to identify the woman using biometrics but were unsuccessful. The woman failed to regain consciousness and remained under the care of medical personnel.
Medical staff pronounced the woman deceased on Sept. 4, at approximately 7:49 a.m.
The El Paso County Medical Examiner took custody of the woman’s remains and performed an external autopsy. Based on the investigative and examination findings, it is the opinion of the Medical Examiner that the cause of death is hyperthermia. The manner of death is accidental.
This incident is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General was also notified.