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Texas Border Town Overwhelmed by Drowned Body Recoveries

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The sheriff of Maverick County, Texas, reports that a local morgue ran out of space for bodies last week amid the border crisis. | Image by James Keivom

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A Texas border town has requested refrigerators to store the growing number of bodies being recovered from the Rio Grande River after drowning while attempting to unlawfully cross the border.

Eagle Pass Fire Department Chief Manuel Mello III told The Washington Times that a local mortician contracted with Maverick County, where Eagle Pass is located, requested to use the county’s refrigerated truck trailer. County officials are clearing the request with Eagle Pass’ Emergency Management office.

He said the trailer is needed due to the “combination [of] the high number of fatalities and the high workload of the medical examiner.”

Mello told Fox News that recovering bodies from the Rio Grande had become a daily occurrence, and it has “overwhelmed” his town’s morgues and funeral homes. When Mello joined the fire department over 25 years ago, he said there would be only about 12 body recoveries a year.

Mello said that now there are about 30 body recoveries per month in Maverick County, with the town on track to have 300 body recoveries this year.

“There are so many bodies being recovered that the morticians are asking for assistance,” Mello said. “I had never seen so many drownings like we’re seeing right now.”

“We do a body recovery daily,” Mello continued. “It’s very traumatic for my personnel.”

Chief Mello said that the exceptionally high number of body recoveries has negatively affected his firefighters’ mental health, resulting in staffing issues. He said that workers are taking more days off and experiencing emotional breakdowns.

“These are young gentlemen, young women are seeing more than any normal person would see in a lifetime,” Mello said. “It’s almost like a war zone.”

The Del Rio sector of the southern border has recorded over 376,000 unlawful migrant encounters since October 2021, averaging out to nearly 1,100 per day, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Across the entire border, there have been more than 1.8 million encounters over the past 11 months.

Several children have been among those who have recently died during unlawful border-crossing attempts, Mello said.

Late last month, a 3-year-old was killed, and his 3-month-old infant sibling ended up in critical condition after their uncle fell into a hole while crossing the river and lost hold of them. In a separate incident, a 5-year-old girl drowned in the Rio Grande while trying to unlawfully enter Texas with her mother, as reported by The Dallas Express.

“Sometimes you’ll be walking in an area where the water will never go above your knee, but all of a sudden you’ll have a drop of about 10, 12 feet,” Mello said of the Rio Grande. “If you’re carrying a baby, you’re going to go down 10 or 12 feet with that baby.”

Two weeks ago, 13 unlawful migrants drowned and another 53 were apprehended crossing the river in the Del Rio sector.

Mello said Eagle Pass has four ambulances and two reserve trucks, “But those four trucks, they get overwhelmed every single day,” he told Fox News.

Mello said his office typically receives 7,000 emergency calls annually, but last year, the department received 8,500 calls, and it is on track to hit that same figure again this year.

Since October, CBP has conducted nearly 19,000 search and rescue efforts, compared to less than 5,000 in fiscal 2019, Fox News reported.

Mello said he worries the upcoming cooler weather will increase the number of people trying to cross the Rio Grande to enter Texas unlawfully. He added that the federal government needs to step in.

“I would like to see the federal government jump in and help out in whatever way they can,” the fire chief told Fox News. “If they could at least stop this migration, that would be awesome.”    

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Ruth Douthit
Ruth Douthit
24 days ago

May they all RIp🙏 Our government must help our border to prevent this awful tragedy from continuing! They have blood on their hands and don’t seem to care about human lives. We must close our border and finish the Trump wall. We must unite our country and vote in November to get these criminals out of office once and for all.

ed lopez
ed lopez
Reply to  Ruth Douthit
24 days ago

VOTE BLUE !

Walter Buddlestone
Walter Buddlestone
Reply to  ed lopez
24 days ago

If you wish death and human trafficking’s to continue. yes, def blue. Blue is also good for inflation, high taxes, crime, shortages and Hunter Biden.

ed lopez
ed lopez
24 days ago

Abbott is sending the bodies to San Fransico.

LCP75050
LCP75050
Reply to  ed lopez
24 days ago

Abbott won’t be in office much longer charging the taxpayers for his political tricks.

Bobby
Bobby
Reply to  ed lopez
24 days ago

you’re an idiot!

LCP75050
LCP75050
Reply to  Bobby
24 days ago

Foolish man.

Robbie
Robbie
23 days ago

These deaths should be determined as murders. The murderer is OLD Joe Biden. He can then pass around the blame to Schumer and Peelosi along with the other idiots busy destroying this nation.

Kathryn McGuire-Garrett
Kathryn McGuire-Garrett
23 days ago

Biden did this.

Mary. J Favoccia
Mary. J Favoccia
20 days ago

I’m all for helping one another and it’s very Sad that people and Chrilden are dying But it’s the Parents choice to cross that River with their children and their babies so therefore they would have be the ones with blood on their hands and it’s a shame that they’re doing that I don’t understand the reason or and why but I do know that they need to think of the children welfare before attempting to cross and yes we as the United States need to step up and do something to stop this illegal crossing I have no problem with people coming here legally God bless these people and may the ones that have passed rest in peace

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