The body of a National Guard soldier who drowned while trying to rescue two struggling migrants from the Rio Grande was recovered Monday morning, authorities say. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Specialist Bishop E. Evans, a 22-year-old Texas Guardsman from Arlington, was a "hero who risked his life in service of Texas and America," CBS reports. Evans disappeared Friday after he jumped in a part of the river in Eagle Pass, Texas known for strong currents. Authorities, who initially said Evans went in to rescue a woman, said Saturday that he entered the water to save two migrants who appeared to be drowning, CNN reports. Authorities say both migrants survived and were taken into custody on suspicion of drug trafficking. Our story from Saturday follows:
As a female migrant struggled in the waters of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, Friday morning, an Army National Guard soldier jumped into the river to help—and didn't come out. The servicemember was swept away and is feared to have drowned, the New York Times reports. The woman and four or five other migrants appeared to make it across to the US side of the river safely, the Maverick County sheriff tells NBC News.
The soldier, who was assigned to the Operation Lone Star border mission stationed along the river aimed at preventing border crossings, "has gone missing along the river during a mission related incident," the Texas Military Department says in a statement. "The soldier has not been found,” it continues, but an active search is underway. "It’s very dangerous, this river, the Rio Grande—it’s very tricky," the sheriff says. "When I was in the Border Patrol, we advised never to jump after anybody."
The sheriff says that while about two migrants per week drown crossing the river in his county, it's rare for border patrol officers to drown. The International Organization for Migration recorded more than 600 deaths of migrants attempting to cross into the US last year, a sharp increase from the year prior. (Read more Rio Grande stories.)