New River claims lives of four immigrants

July 30, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The New River claimed the lives of four people found Friday through Sunday, all thought to be undocumented immigrants.

The desert also claimed the life of a woman over the weekend and the bones of one more person were found in an area that has seen its share of death this summer.

On Sunday, the joint efforts of the county Sheriff's Office aero squadron, dive team and Coroner's Office led to the recovery of two bodies from the New River.

The bodies were reported Saturday night by a group of immigrants found along the banks of the New River between El Centro and Calexico.


The group, according to Rick Williams, a county coroner investigator, reported passing two bodies in the river.

The search started for the bodies Sunday morning.

By 11:30 a.m. the body of a man, which apparently had been in the water awhile based on decomposition was found. Later found was a woman's body thought to have been in the water 48 to 72 hours.

The bodies were found within a mile and half of each other, Williams said, with one body found in the river near Kubler and Clark roads and the other near Eddy and West Cole roads.

Williams said the identities of the bodies have yet to be determined.

He credited the efforts of the aero squadron and dive team, specifically naming Sgt. Manuel Garcia, director of the dive team, and deputies Mark Ortega, a diver, Mike Ruiz, a support officer, Richard Noah, a senior boating officer and Mike Mistriel, another team member.

The discovery of the two bodies Sunday came after the bodies of a man and a woman were found in the river Friday.

Specific information on that case was unavailable this morning, but both bodies were found in the morning hours.

There was no information this morning about whether any of the deaths in the river are thought to be related.

Williams said it is unfortunate but the river is used as a route for illegal immigration because immigrants know it is difficult for the Border Patrol to track people moving through the waterway.

Border Patrol agents have said those who use the New River stand a good chance of making it into the country simply because the river is such a dangerous body of water. They have said agents will not go in after immigrants because of the diseases in the highly polluted water.

In another case this weekend, the body of a woman was found in a gas station bathroom in Desert Shores on Saturday night.

Williams said by the time the woman was found by a passerby attempting to use the bathroom, she had been dead about two hours.

Williams said the woman is thought to be an undocumented immigrant and there were signs she had been in the desert. He is unsure if she had been in distress and was left in the bathroom by those she was with or if she had died in the desert and was placed in the bathroom.

There were indications she died from exposure to the heat, but Williams said the final cause of death would be determined by an autopsy.

There was no identification found with the woman.

In the final case this weekend, the volunteer De Anza Search and Rescue team found human remains in the Carrizo Wash area Sunday.

Williams said as many as six people have been found dead in the Carrizo Wash area this summer. One of those deaths was deemed a murder after it was found the trachea of the man had been fractured.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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