A man was arrested Sunday by U.S. Border Patrol agents after firefighters rescued him from the Tijuana River, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue.
BP was first to arrive at the scene where a man, who is undocumented, had become stuck on a river island below the bridge on Dairy Mart Road, SDFD Battalion Chief Steve Salaz said.
“He wasn’t in immediate danger," he said. "Not sure how he got there.”
Agents asked the man, identified as a Mexican national in his 20s, to come out of the river, but the man reportedly refused because he couldn’t swim and was “terrified” of the water.
“You could tell he was wet. So, somewhere he went through the water and, I guess, he was done with that. He wasn’t going in the water again,” Salaz told NBC 7.
BP then called SDFD to assist with the man’s rescue around 8:30 a.m.
Firefighters used a pulley system attached to their fire engine to extract the man.
“It made sense to slow the whole rescue down and pull him out with our ladder and rope system,” Salaz said. “Be safe and get him out safely.”
Once on the roadway, SDFD had to decontaminate the man, crew members, and equipment due to pollutants in the Tijuana River.
“The contamination down there — we all know the river’s polluted, the water’s polluted,” said Salaz. “Everything you think you could imagine in there is probably in there.” The battalion chief remembered seeing a refrigerator in the Tijuana River at one point during his career.
The man was taken into CBP's custody around 9:30 a.m.
It is not clear how the man initially became trapped in the Tijuana River at this time.
No injuries were reported.