A Border Patrol Agent based out of Yuma, Arizona was recently rescued after falling 15 feet and spending several hours in a cactus patch, where he sustained non-life-threatening injuries caused by needles in his legs, arms and abdomen. He also sprained his ankle.
Border Patrol attempted to provide aid, but the helicopter was unable to land due to the difficult terrain of the Sierra Pinta Mountains, which lie about 62 miles northeast of Yuma. The area of the mountain range where the agent fell was roughly 1200 feet tall and “very steep.” Even if the medevac helicopter had been able to land, it lacked the hoisting capabilities required for a successful rescue.
Juan Santana, Yuma’s Public Affairs Officer for Border Patrol, said there were no other Border Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) helicopters available at the time that were outfitted with the proper equipment. He was quick to point out that they do have helicopters in their fleet that are capable of performing such rescues, and that it was unfortunate none were available for this particular rescue mission.
As a result, Search and Rescue from the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma were called around 4:30 pm, with Command Search and Rescue Officer Capt. Patrick DeGraff serving as co-pilot of the operation. He reported that the Border Patrol agent was rescued a few minutes past 7 pm, after a three-hour rescue mission.
DeGraff said they were in constant radio communication with the agents at Border Patrol, who were able to help the rescue team find the injured agent’s location by using flashing mirrors and signal flares. After he was rescued, the agent was transferred safely to the Yuma Regional Medical Center for medical treatment. He is expected to make a full recovery.