Missing siblings found asleep after desert trek

August 20, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

OCOTILLO — The search for an 18-year-old woman and her 13-year-old brother, both immigrants lost in the rugged terrain near here, ended when both were found sleeping on the porch of a house Saturday.

The two crossed the border illegally with their mother and a group of immigrants, all of whom were wandering through the desert Saturday afternoon.

The group's trek went awry as the members became separated.

Border Patrol agents reported one person in the group went for help, walking to the desert community of Nomirage near Ocotillo.

The Border Patrol was contacted and started searching for the group. Help would not arrive in time to prevent one death. The mother of the brother and sister died. Information on her identity and cause of death were not available this morning.


She was thought to be about 30 years old and resided in the state of Michoacan, Mexico.

Five members of the group were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, and 11 others were taken into custody.

Some group members had to be airlifted by helicopter to awaiting ambulances.

After the group was found an intense search began for the brother and sister.

Border Patrol agents were joined by the Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue team and other agencies, including the Calexico Fire Department, in the search for the two.

The search ended about 8:30 p.m. Saturday when an Ocotillo resident reported finding two people sleeping on the resident's porch.

The brother and sister, whose identities were unavailable, were in good condition and were moved to a holding facility in San Diego.

Border Patrol agents said the siblings will be kept together despite that the sister is an adult and the brother is a juvenile.

Agents said the two are thought to have family in the United States, but there was no information on whether they would be deported to Mexico. Their future could depend on an immigration hearing.

Agents said the 11 people taken into custody remained in custody this morning, adding the agents had yet to determine if a smuggler is among the group.

The five who were treated at the hospital were released later Saturday. Information on whether they remained in custody was not available this morning.

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