Guardsman who drowned on Texas border had no float device

Apr 27, 2022, 2:38 PM | Updated: 3:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas National Guard member who drowned on the U.S.-Mexico border while on duty was not equipped with a flotation device when he jumped in the Rio Grande to help a migrant who was struggling to swim across, state officials said Wednesday.

Spc. Bishop Evans, who was missing three days before search crews found his body Monday, was among the more than 6,100 guard members stationed on the border as part of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s massive border security mission known as Operation Lone Star. The mission has 43 flotation devices for guard members who are assigned to boat missions, Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer said. Evans was not a boat crew member.

Requests for more flotation devices were first made in February but have been delayed by supply chain issues, Suelzer told lawmakers in the Texas Capitol while facing questions about Evans’ death, low morale and equipment shortages that have rattled the yearlong mission. Guard leaders defended not issuing all soldiers flotation devices because, they said, many are stationed on land.

Suelzer said that since Evans’ death, guard members have been instructed not to go in the water unless they have special training.

“(He) was a human being,” Suelzer said. “He saw a human being drowning and he jumped in the water to save them.”

Migrant rescues by Border Patrol are common along Texas’ 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) border with Mexico. Attempted crossings are sometimes deadly.

Brig. Gen. Monie Ulis said that guard members mostly stay on the banks to help migrants, and that he could recall only four or five instances where a guard member went into the water.

Evans is at least the fifth guard member who has died during the mission, a number that included suicides, said state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat has called for an inquest into the deaths. The mission includes thousands of state troopers, patrol boats on the Rio Grande and surveillance aircraft, and costs the state more than $2 million a day, said Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Abbott gave guard members unusual authority last year to detain and arrest migrants, but most on the mission are assigned to observation posts. Guard leaders acknowledged morale problems, including equipment shortages and sparse living conditions, but said improvements have been made in recent months.

“Average morale would be about a seven,” Ulis said. “Far above when we first started.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Facebook Photo/Superior Court of Arizona in Yavapai County)...
Associated Press

Arizona judge has cases reassigned following DUI arrest

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that all cases currently assigned to a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI will be reassigned to other judges.
22 hours ago
Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
4 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
4 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
10 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
18 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
18 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Guardsman who drowned on Texas border had no float device