4 bodies, including infant, pulled from Rio Grande over 3-day span: Official

Two survivors were placed in Border Patrol custody, Lt. Chris Olivarez said.

July 4, 2023, 7:01 PM

Four bodies, including that of an infant, have been recovered from the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, since Saturday, according to Lt. Chris Olivarez, a spokesperson with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Olivarez tweeted Monday that the agency's Tactical Marine Unit (TMU) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission dispatched two airboats while assisting the U.S. Border Patrol during a possible infant drowning Saturday. The teams found "multiple bodies floating around the river," including a female adult and a female infant, Olivarez said.

Responders performed chest compressions, but the victims were pronounced deceased when they were transported to Fort Duncan Regional Medical Center, Olivarez said. Two survivors were placed in Border Patrol custody, he added.

A male victim had been recovered on Sunday, and a female victim was recovered the next day, Olivarez said.

"The identities of the deceased remain unknown since none possessed identifying documents," he added.

Texas DPS did not immediately respond to ABC News when asked if the victims drowned in separate incidents.

The area where the victims were recovered is a particularly dangerous part of the Rio Grande. Although the river seems shallow enough to cross on foot in some areas, there are several unexpected, steep drop-offs. The area is also known for strong undercurrents that migrants may also fail to see above the surface.

Bishop Evans, a sergeant with the Texas National Guard who was deployed to the border under Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's Operation Lone Star, drowned in April 2022 while attempting to rescue two migrants who appeared to be in distress in Eagle Pass.

A spokesperson for the Texas National Guard told ABC News in June 2022 that throw-ropes had been ordered but not delivered by the time Evans went beyond his duties and dove into the water.

This past June, Abbott and DPS Director Col. Steven McCraw announced authorities would be installing a removable floating water barrier made of large buoys to deter migrants from crossing from Mexico into Texas.

"We don't want anybody getting hurt, in fact, we want to prevent people from getting hurt, prevent people from drowning," McCraw said last month.

Rochelle Garza, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said in June the plan would only add to the risks immigrants face when crossing the river.

"Gov. Abbott continues to overreach and violate our U.S. Constitution by meddling in federal immigration and border issues. We need the Federal government to ensure that those seeking the safety of our country are welcomed with dignity. And we need our state government to focus on investing in our border communities. People already face the risk of drowning in the Rio Grande due to plants, debris and an unpredictable current -- these barriers would only add to the danger they already face," Garza said at the time.