EAGLE PASS, Texas (KVEO) — The Texas Military Department is continuing its search for a missing National Guard soldier that tried to save migrants from drowning along the Rio Grande. On Friday, the Texas Military Department issued a statement regarding a soldier who had gone missing while working along the river as part of Operation Lone Star during a mission-related incident in Eagle Pass.
Authorities later said the soldier went missing when they “selflessly attempted to help two migrants who appeared to be drowning” as they crossed the river from Mexico to the United States. Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber said the rescue attempt happened near Eagle Pass at a section of the river known for strong currents.
“He jumped in the river,” Schmerber said. “They never saw him come out.”
The two migrants were later determined to have been involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking. Both are now in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
The Texas Military Department notified the family of the missing soldier Friday evening. TMD expressed its support, saying, “our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of the soldier.”
Additional information, including the name of the soldier, is expected to be released at a later date. The search for the missing soldier will continue until all available resources have been exhausted, according to TMD.
The Guard member was assigned to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s sprawling border security mission, known as Operation Lone Star, which has deployed thousands of Guard members across Texas’ 1,200-mile (1,920-kilometer) southern border since launching last year. The multibillion-dollar operation also includes a heavy presence of state troopers and authorizes Guard members to help make arrests.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.