Border Patrol saves undocumented immigrants from Salinity Canal
Rescues demonstrate how fast agents must think and act
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Border Patrol agents are being called heroes after rescuing a pair of undocumented immigrants from drowning in the Salinity Canal.
According to Agent A. Gutierrez, it all began 10 p.m. Tuesday near County 21st Street when he saw a woman struggling to stay afloat. Her child stood on the water's edge watching.
Agent Gutierrez says he immediately called for backup and used a discarded purse as a lifeline to throw to the drowning woman. He kept the child from falling into the canal while rescuing the mother.
That's when Gutierrez noticed a man fighting to get out of the canal and another woman lying face down. He let responding agents know, secured the mother-son duo and then went after the other two.
The man eventually pulled himself out, but the woman kept floating downstream.
Supervisory Agent C. Coleman soon arrived on scene. Thinking quickly, he wrapped a vehicle tow strap around his waist, handed the other end to his partner and jumped into the canal to rescue the unconscious woman.
“When I got there all I could see was her backpack; her face was completely underwater,” Coleman shared. “I handed the strap to my partner, and I said, ‘Hold this and don’t let go!’”
Agents on the sidelines began reeling Coleman in once he got ahold of the woman. Back on dry land, Agent Gutierrez used his EMT skills to examine her.
He discovered the woman was not breathing, and couldn't detect a pulse. However, she started breathing on her own while Gutierrez resuscitated her.
The team of agents then treated the woman for hypothermia and gave her additional oxygen until paramedics arrived to take the woman to the Yuma Regional Medical Center. Border Patrol brought her back to the Yuma Sector station after she was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon.
“Agent Gutierrez, Supervisory Agent Coleman and the other rescuing agents would never say it themselves, but they are heroes,” Yuma Sector Chief Chris T. Clem said. “They took quick and decisive action to save the lives of those women and their acts show the compassionate and courageous heart that beats inside Border Patrol agents.”