(The Center Square ) – A Texas National Guard soldier participating in Operation Lone Star remains missing after he attempted to save a woman crossing the Rio Grande River.
The guardsman was first reported missing in Eagle Pass, Texas, located roughly 143 miles southwest of San Antonio. The area is a major crossing point for people attempting to cross the Rio Grande River, and into Texas illegally, often drowning in the process.
The guardsman was first reported missing Friday morning. Shortly before 2 p.m. CST, law enforcement found a walkie-talkie and body armor that belonged to a guardsman.
Some news reports said the guardsman had drowned but the Texas Military Department issued a statement saying, “A Texas Army National Guard Soldier assigned to Operation Lone Star has gone missing along the river during a mission related incident … The Soldier has not been found. We are aware of reports of a fatality, although those reports are inaccurate.”
"The Texas Governor’s office continues to work with the Texas National Guard and other law enforcement agencies as they search for the missing soldier," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.
Later, the Texas Military Department issued another statement, saying, “The search for our missing National Guard Soldier continues,” adding that the Texas Rangers took the lead on the investigation. Other agencies providing support in the investigation include the Texas Department of Public Safety, Parks and Wildlife and Border Patrol.
Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber told the Washington Examiner the incident occurred around 8:30 a.m. “The National Guard soldiers saw a group of immigrants crossing, and one of them, a lady – it appeared that she was drowning,” Schmerber said. “The National Guardsman jumped into the river and tried to rescue, and he never came out. So they called us and said, ‘We’re still looking for him.'”
Updates on the investigation “will be provided as additional details become available,” the governor’s office said.