The Texas Military Department has suspended a search for a 22-year-old soldier who went missing in a river along the U.S.-Mexico border while trying to help a migrant woman swim across.
Dive operations may continue Saturday but the Rio Grande’s notoriously strong currents forced them Friday to cease rescue efforts of the missing Texas Army National Guard soldier, whose name has not been released. The soldier was assigned to a border security mission, the department said in a statement.
“We will continue the search for our soldier until we have exhausted all possible resources,” the statement read.
The department also said that it’s in the process of notifying the soldier’s next of kin.
Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber said the migrant woman made it about halfway across the Rio Grande from Mexico when she appeared to begin struggling to remain afloat.
“[The soldier] jumped in the river,” Schmerber said. “They never saw him come out.”
The woman ultimately got across and was placed in the custody of Border Patrol, Schmerber said. The incident occurred around 8:30 a.m. Central Time on Friday.
The Sheriff’s office, state troopers and Border Patrol agents were involved in the initial search.
The incident comes as migration levels along the southern border soar, having reached more than 221,000 in March – the most in a single month since President Biden took office, during which there has been an increasing surge.
The soldier was assigned to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s multi-billion border security mission, Operation Lone Star, which has deployed thousands of Guard members across Texas’ 1,200-mile southern border since launching last year.