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Guatemalan woman dies crossing Goldwater bombing range near Yuma

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Guatemalan woman dies crossing Goldwater bombing range near Yuma

  • A Blackhawk helicopter lifts off during a demonstration in Tucson in May.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comA Blackhawk helicopter lifts off during a demonstration in Tucson in May.
  • A group of migrants walk out of the desert after their apprehension by Tucson Sector agents.
    CBPA group of migrants walk out of the desert after their apprehension by Tucson Sector agents.

A Guatemalan woman was found dead on the Barry M. Goldwater Range on Monday, after she fell ill and was left behind by a migrant group she was crossing with, authorities said. On Wednesday, Border Patrol agents evacuated a man from a rugged valley.

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents and a helicopter crew with Air and Marine Operations recovered the body of the woman, who was about 40 years old, said Jose J. Garibay, a spokesman for the Yuma Sector. 

The Air Force bombing range includes more than one million acres of open land just south of Wellton, Ariz., with the easternmost edge about 85 miles west of Tucson.

Around 4:38 p.m., an emergency services operator in Mexico told the Yuma Sector Operations Center that they had been contacted by a group of 10 people who were lost in the desert after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. The caller said that one of the women in the group was losing consciousness and she had been left behind, Garibay said. 

The Border Patrol dispatched members of the Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue Unit, or BORSTAR, a group of agents specially trained in emergency medicine, rescues, and searches, and they and a helicopter crew began to search the range east of Yuma for the woman.

Within 78 minutes, the helicopter crew found the woman, and five additional people. Agents on the ground located four more people nearby, Garibay said. 

The cause of the woman’s death is under investigation, he said. Her remains were transported to the medical examiner’s office, after which they will be transported back to Guatemala with assistance from the consulate, he said. 

The other migrants in her group were found to be in good health after an initial medical evaluation and were transported to the Yuma Border Patrol Station for immigration processing, he said. There they received food, water, and care while awaiting prosecution for immigration violations, Garibay said. 

A Tucson Sector helicopter crew airlifted an unconscious man from a remote valley on Wednesday, and another man was later hospitalized after agents tracked the group he was with on foot for more than 11 miles. 

Tuesday night, a Customs and Border Protection camera spotted a group of suspected border-crossers walking along a remote and rugged valley "attempting to evade arrest," said a BP spokesman. Agents tracked the group on foot more than 11 miles and they discovered an unconscious man "suffering from various injuries," he said. 

Agents with medical training worked to stabilize him, while other agents searched for the other members of the group who had split up and were hiding in a rocky valley to "avoid being arrested," he said. 

A Blackhawk helicopter airlifted the unconscious man from the mountains to another area where a waiting medical helicopter could transport him to a hospital. 

After hiking for 10 hours, agents arrested a total of 18 illegal aliens, 16 males and two females, from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, the spokesman said.  "The group was found exhausted and needing water," he said. 

A second man was later taken to the hospital for chest pains, he said. 

All of the individuals are in stable condition and facing federal immigration charges, he said. 

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