TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Border agents rescued two illegal border crossers in Santa Cruz County on Saturday after receiving a distress call from them.
It happened early Saturday morning, April 19, when the Nogales Border Patrol Station was contacted by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, which had received a 911 call regarding two illegal immigrants; a husband and wife lost in steep terrain southeast of Tucson. The woman was reportedly experiencing chest pains.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protections dispatched a helicopter with a BORSTAR agent on board. BORSTAR stands for Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue. It's a specialized unit of the United States Border Patrol trained in emergency search and rescue and primarily assists injured or stranded illegal immigrants at remote desert locations.
Within 30 minutes, the crew spotted the man and woman on Squaw Peak at an elevation of over 6,000 feet. Because of the steep terrain, the helicopter could not land and ground agents were three hours away from the scene. According to a press release, off-duty personnel were called in and by 8:36 a.m. a UH-60 (Blackhawk helicopter) crew was launched.
Because of severe weather in the area, the mission was considered high risk. At 9 a.m., the UH-60 began hoist-rescue operations.
This difficult rescue under high winds and isolated thunderstorms in the area was made even more challenging with a temporary flight restriction due to a wildland fire one mile from the rescue scene.
The UH-60 crew hoisted the woman into the helicopter and transferred her to a ground ambulance. She was later hospitalized for advanced cardiac care and her husband was turned over to the Border Patrol for processing.
According to Mitch Pribble, director of Tucson Air Branch, the UH-60 flight crew consisted of two pilots, a hoist operator, a safety officer, and an OAM emergency medical technician who was lowered to the couple to administer field medical treatment.
"The dedication and professionalism demonstrated by the crew while conducting this life-saving rescue under very difficult circumstances reflect greatly, not only on themselves, but also the Office of Air and Marine and U.S. Customs and Border Protection."