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9-year-old migrant rescued in desert in Arizona after having seizures dies

The child was diagnosed with multi-organ failure and placed on life support. His mother believed he fell ill because of the heat, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
A section of border wall snakes through the Sonoran Desert in Douglas, Ariz., separating Mexico, left, and the United States, in 2020.
A section of border wall snakes through the Sonoran Desert in Douglas, Ariz., separating Mexico, left, and the United States, in 2020.Matt York / AP file

A 9-year-old migrant who crossed into the United States amid scorching Arizona heat and began having seizures died after he was placed on life support, authorities said Friday.

Border Patrol agents aided the child and tracked his care after he was rescued in the high Sonoran Desert near the community of Tubac on June 15, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The unidentified child was taken to Northwest Medical Center in Sahuarita shortly before 11 p.m. that night, CBP said, and was under the watch of Border Patrol agents.

The next day, he was taken by helicopter to Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, where he was diagnosed with full organ failure and placed on life support, CBP said. Agents kept watch, it said.

Nearly five hours later, CBP said in its statement, Border Patrol agents "completed administrative processing of the female migrant and her children" and "advised medical center staff she and her children were no longer in USBP custody."

The medical center informed CBP that the child died the evening of June 17, the agency said.

CBP said the child's mother believed he fell ill because of the heat. She also told agents she and her two children hadn't had fluids for about 90 minutes before she called for help, the agency said.

The woman said she and her sons crossed the border into Arizona about 2:30 a.m. June 15. The child's mother said her son hadn't had existing medical issues, but began having seizures, and she called for help about 9:40 p.m., CBP said.

A National Guard helicopter crew spotted the three at 10:01 p.m., and the crew helped Tubac first responders arrive on the ground at 10:17 p.m., it said. A Border Patrol agent driving an all-terrain vehicle took the child to an awaiting ambulance less than 15 minutes later, the agency said.

Tubac is roughly 50 miles south of Tucson, where the high temperature that day was 99, said National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Singer.

Data collected by Tucson-based nonprofit Humane Borders shows eight migrants have died from exposure in Arizona counties along the U.S.-Mexico border so far this year. 

CBP did not immediately respond to a request for additional information regarding the timing of the migrants’ release.

CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing the incident, and the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General has been notified, CBP said. The agency operates under Homeland Security and includes Border Patrol.