A Texas National Guard soldier went missing on Friday while attempting to rescue illegal border crossers in a river at the Mexican border.
Texas Army National Guard Specialist Bishop E. Evans was lost at Eagle Pass and although initial press reports indicated he had drowned, law enforcement officials later said that a body that had been recovered and initially identified as the soldier was in fact that of a migrant.
The Texas Military Department issued a statement on Friday saying the reports of a service member fatality are “inaccurate” but confirmed the soldier has not been found. The soldier was working with Operation Lone Star and was being searched for by the Texas National Guard, the Texas DPS, and the U.S. Border Patrol.
The search was primarily being conducted as a drowning case, with dive teams searching the river since the time the soldier was not seen resurfacing during the initial rescue operation.
The Maverick County, Texas, Sheriff told reporters that the soldier went missing at around 8:30 a.m. while trying to save a female border crosser who was in trouble in the river. That migrant survived and was in Border Patrol custody Thursday.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) posted an image on Twitter showing the soldier’s body armor, which he removed before jumping into the river to provide aid to the illegal immigrant. Gonzales asked followers to “please pray for the families of all those impacted.”
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement that the search would continue and further updates would be provided.
Strong river currents forced the search operation to be suspended on Friday. The Texas Army National Guard issued a series of statements indicating it would continue the operation as soon as possible until all possible resources had been exhausted.
Officials said Saturday that the migrants Evans was trying to save were involved in “illicit transnational narcotics trafficking.”
Evans, 22, is a field artilleryman from Arlington, Texas and joined the Texas Army National Guard in May 2019. He returned to Texas in the fall of 2020 after being deployed to Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait. While there he was regularly assigned to operations inside Iraq in support of Special Operations Forces.