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Two found dead near Ocotillo

August 29, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

For a full week there were no heat-related deaths reported in the Imperial Valley, and county coroner officials reported Sunday it was the longest lull in such deaths in two months.

The lull has ended.

On Tuesday, a man and woman, both reportedly undocumented immigrants, were found dead in the desert six miles east of Ocotillo.

County Coroner Investigator Gary Hayes said both likely died from exposure to the heat as temperatures soared over 100 degrees and mixed with high humidity.

Hayes said the specific cause of death will be determined Saturday when the bodies are autopsied.

The bodies were found at 3 p.m. Tuesday after the husband of the woman who died flagged down U.S. Border Patrol agents.

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That man led agents to the bodies of his wife and another man.

Hayes identified the woman as Socorro Arroyo, a Mexican national. He did not have information on her age or where in Mexico she had lived.

Hayes, who declined to name the man who died because his family had yet to be notified, said the man had resided near Mexico City.

Authorities were unsure of the relationship between the two people who died other than they were traveling together.

In a bit of a twist, Hayes said, the investigation has been affected because the husband has disappeared.

He was taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center for treatment for heat exhaustion. Hayes said the man was in the hospital as of last night, when officials from the Mexican consulate in Calexico visited him.

At some point between that visit and this morning, the man left the hospital. Hayes said he is unsure if the man was discharged or simply left.

The two deaths came a full week after the last reported heat death locally — a woman who died in the Ocotillo area after crossing the border illegally with her children in another group of migrants.

That case came just two days after another woman died while crossing illegally with her children.

There still are several weeks left of extreme summer temperatures and it is likely the death toll will rise.

According to Border Patrol statistics, the two deaths Tuesday means that 81 illegal immigrants have died in the Imperial Valley this federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

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

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