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SPECIAL REPORT: A deadly trek across the desert

Woman migrant from Ghana dies in El Centro's west desert region - News 11's Wiley Jawhary reports

El Centro, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - A smuggler leads the way and how they treat men and women who decide to take the dangerous trek.

"Hurry up or I will leave you behind," the smuggler told us.

This smuggler was an actor treating us how they would treat migrants. Chief Gregory Bovino with U.S Border Patrol El Centro Sector says lives have been lost on this path.

"We did have a border death less than 24 hours ago, that border death is within a few miles from where we are standing now," he said.

Chief Bovino says the woman became unresponsive and border patrol agents could not revive her.

THE El Centro Sector reported 28 deaths last year across the Western Desert.

USBP agent Patrick Aguirre says sometimes they are putting their own lives in danger to save
others.

"Our only way to carry these migrants out is on our back like piggyback, and if we have additional tools to utilize it helps us greatly but it is extremely difficult," he said.

The trek proves to be deadly claiming the lives of meant women and children yearly. Even I couldn't handle the bone-dry desert and had to call for help when I couldn't keep up with agents.

In severe cases of dehydration, border patrol agents administer an IV. Kellie Sheppard with USBP says sometimes it saves lives.

"If they are in the further stages of dehydration, they can't even drink anything so going into their vein and putting fluid in will be the quickest way to bring their temperature down," she said.

Sheppard says with kids, it's even harder both mentally and physically.

"Those are obviously harder because they are smaller, we try to explain to them the process before we stick them with a needle and if they are really small they are not going to understand," she said.

And last year around this time 28 deaths on paths like these along the El Centro Border Patrol Sector, but this year, down to five deaths, it just goes to show you U.S Border Patrol agents are doing what they can to keep lives safe, but sometimes some just don't make it.

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Wiley Jawhary

Wiley Jawhary is from Orange County California. He joined KYMA/KSWT in April of 2021.

Reach out to Wiley with story ideas and tips at wiley.jawhary@kecytv.com.

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