Texas soldier’s body recovered after he tried to rescue drowning immigrants

The body of a Texas Army National Guard soldier was recovered from the Rio Grande on Monday, several days after he went missing while attempting to save drowning migrants.

Specialist Bishop Evans, 22, was confirmed to have died by Representative Tony Gonzales while speaking to The Texas Tribune on Monday. Gonzales’ congressional district encompasses Eagle Pass, where Evans was stationed initially and where he was washed away attempting to save migrants struggling to cross into the U.S. on Friday morning.

“SPC. Evans will forever be remembered for the bravery and compassion he showed while saving lives in the Rio Grande,” Gonzales wrote in a tweet. “We will make sure this young soldier’s sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Evans first joined the Texas National Guard in 2019, eventually serving as a field artilleryman in Arlington, serving tours in Iraq and Kuwait as part of Operation Spartan Shield. He was later assigned to border patrol in Eagle Pass in late 2020 as part of Governor Greg Abbott‘s comprehensive Operation Lone Star initiative.

Texas National Guard Specialist Bishop Evans’ body was located several days after being washed away while trying to save migrants struggling in the Rio Grande. Above, a section of the U.S.-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, where Evans was stationed.
Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death of SPC Bishop E. Evans who was reported missing in Eagle Pass on Friday,” Abbott said in a statement about Evans’ passing. “Our National Guard soldiers risk their lives every day to serve and protect others and we are eternally grateful for the way SPC Evans heroically served his state and country.”

Evans removed his body armor before jumping into the river at approximately 9:45 a.m. on Friday, according to the Tribune. Despite that precaution, he did not resurface. The effort to locate him began shortly afterward. The two migrants he was attempting to help survived and were taken into U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody.

The effort to find Evans involved search parties combing the river using boats and helicopters. The search was postponed briefly on Saturday due to river conditions, but resumed on Sunday. Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Parks and Wildlife and Border Patrol helped with the search.

“We are devastated by the loss of a member of our Guard family,” Major General Thomas Suelzer, adjutant general for Texas, said in a statement. “We recognize the selflessness of this heroic soldier who put his life above others in service to our state and national security. The Texas Military Department sends our deepest condolences to the family.”

Newsweek reached out to the Texas National Guard for comment.

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