Federal authorities are continuing efforts to recover the bodies of three women who died after they suffered from hypothermia Monday as they crossed the border illegally in a group that had gotten lost south of San Diego County’s Mount Laguna.
Border Patrol agents were called at about 2:15 p.m. Monday to rescue five people in need of medical attention in an “extremely rugged” area on the La Posta Indian Reservation, about 15 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border and 25 miles northeast of the Tecate Port of Entry.
Two men, who were only identified as 22-year-old and 37-year-old Mexican nationals, told agents upon arrival that the women were in need of medical assistance. The group called for help after they began to suffer hypothermia, according to Border Patrol Chief Aaron Heitke.
Two of the women were unresponsive and the third was in and out of consciousness, according to Border Patrol. They were located just after 5 p.m. and authorities confirmed at about 10 p.m. that the trio succumbed to their injuries.
“Our advice to people is to not put their lives in the hands of an organization that views you as a commodity,” said Border Patrol Agent Justin Castrejon. “They’ll put profit over a human life and our advice is to just not make that illegal trip.”
Due to the severe weather, Border Patrol agents were unable to reach the bodies on Monday. Rescue efforts were planned around the weather, according to the agency. The two men involved in the group were arrested for illegal entry, Border Patrol said in a statement.
Between 4 and 5 inches of snow fell on Mt. Laguna Monday, according to the National Weather Service.