Unidentified body recovered in Rio Grande

By John Waters, Publisher

Late yesterday afternoon an unidentified dead body was recovered from the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park.
According to Brewster County Justice of the Peace Jim Burr, the body was recovered by the National Park Service and transported to El Paso for an autopsy. Burr added, “I commend both the Brewster County Sheriff’s Department and the National Park Service rangers who did an excellent job and worked together in adverse conditions to affect the recovery of the body.” Burr said there was no evidence of foul play. The deceased is a Hispanic male.
No missing person reports have been filed recently in Brewster County, Presidio County or Big Bend National Park. An inquiry has been made with the Consulate of Mexico in Presidio regarding missing persons.

On Saturday morning, law enforcement agents saw a dead body floating in the Rio Grande near the line between Presidio and Brewster Counties. Swift and high water prohibited law enforcement from recovering the body at that time.

A long-time river guide told the Gazette he estimated the body had traveled at least 60-70 river miles from the county line to Woodson Crossing. The estimate is only from where the body was first reported to where it was recovered.

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said the corpse was observed by deputies who were unable to catch the body floating swiftly by due to high water, murky water conditions, and a muddy river put-in for the park jet boat.

A guiding protocol for emergency personnel is their own safety in approaching the scene and engaging in a rescue or recovery.

Recent rains and dam releases from Mexico have elevated river flows with flood warnings issued for Lajitas.

Brewster County Deputies were posted at the La Linda bridge last night until 10 pm, said Dodson, in an attempt to catch the body further downstream.

Anyone with information can call the Brewster County Sheriff at 432-837-3488, or Presidio County Sheriff at 432-729-4308.

UPDATE: According to the National Park Service, the body is located near Jewel Camp in the park; a team of experienced river rangers has been dispatched to begin a safe recovery. Swift and high water have complicated recovery efforts. According to the Park Service, a Customs and Border Protection helicopter from the Office of Air and Marine located the body first.
UPDATE: As of 1 pm, According to Bill Brooks of the Marfa Sector, Customs and Border Protection, the body has been located about one mile from Woodson Crossing in Big Bend National Park and is in the process of being recovered. Teams from the CBP’s Office of Air and Marine out of Alpine assisted in the search.
The Rio Grande near the Brewster and Presidio County lines show a rain and dam release of water swollen river. Saturday morning near this point, law enforcement agencies including the Brewster County Sheriffs Department attempted to recover a floating body. Due to high flows the body was not recovered until Monday afternoon by the National park Service in Big Bend National Park. (John Waters, BBG file photo taken last week)

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