Fourteen immigrants rescued during winter storm

MARFA, Texas (KTSM) - One immigrant died and fourteen others were rescued by the Air and Martine Operations' Alpine Unit in the Big Bend area early Friday morning.

The Air Interdiction Agent (AIA) say that the group was lost in the desert and were suffering from extreme hypothermia. All of the immigrants were reportedly from Guatemala and had been traveling through the desert for about a week before the sudden winter storm caught the group off guard Thursday evening.

One of the immigrants was dead on the side of the mountain when rescue crews arrived. The remaining fourteen were separated into groups based on the level of care needed. All were suffering from various states of "distress and hypothermia" according to U.S. Border Patrol officials. 

Five people were airlifted off of the mountain and nine others were transported by US Border Patrol vehicles. The patients were then transported by ambulance to Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine for evaluation and treatment.

One of the most critical patients was transported to a trauma center after going into cardiac arrest during transport. 

“While the loss of even one life is tragic, the heroic efforts of our expertly trained agents responding to this chaotic, mass-casualty event clearly saved 14 lives from certain death,” said Supervisory Air Interdiction Agent and AMEMS Program Manager Jeff Birks. “Their immediate and enduring response, under the harshest of conditions, reflects great credit upon themselves and our agency.”


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