Agents rescue man abandoned by smugglers in East County mountains

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SAN DIEGO — Border Patrol agents say they saved a man abandoned by human smugglers in the mountains of rural East County shortly after crossing the border.

The rescue was made Monday, U.S. Border Patrol said in a news release Thursday.

A search-and-rescue agent flags down fellow rescuers after finding a man abandoned by human smugglers in the mountains of rural East County.
(Photo: U.S. Border Patrol)

The search started Nov. 29 when a family member told officials her cousin had been left behind by a smuggler in a mountainous area near Otay Lakes Reservoir. The man had suffered an ankle injury and couldn’t keep up with the group, USBP said.

Border Patrol’s search-and-rescue team was notified and began an extensive search across “harsh terrain,” officials said. Finally they found the man on Dec. 3, suffering not just from the ankle injury but also frostbite.

A helicopter was called to airlift the man to an ambulance, which rushed him to a hospital.

“I commend the tireless work ethic that our agents exhibited during this rescue,” said Douglas Harrison, a chief patrol agent. “Saving lives is a top priority for our agents.”

Border Patrol said the man was a Mexican national but did not directly comment on whether he faced deportation after recovery.

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