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Texas soldier who drowned trying to save migrants wasn’t equipped with flotation device

Spc. Bishop Evans died after jumping into the Rio Grande to rescue migrants. He and most other members of Operation Lone Star were not provided safety equipment.

Davis Winkie / Military Times, James Barragán / Texas Tribune

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Published: 2:42 PM CDT April 27, 2022
Updated: 3:34 PM CDT April 27, 2022

The river was moving swiftly the morning Spc. Bishop Evans jumped into the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass to save two migrants who appeared to be drowning.

The risk was great. In the past month, at least 23 migrants had drowned in those waters. And rescues by National Guard members patrolling the river were a regular occurrence.

Editor's note: The video above originally aired on Monday, April 27.

The 22-year-old part-time field artilleryman from Arlington was found dead Monday — ending a four-day search for his body, which had been washed away by the river. He was one of 10,000 National Guard members deployed to Operation Lone Star, Gov. Greg Abbott’s prized mission to secure the Texas-Mexico border.

Evans jumped into the raging waters without a flotation device, the Texas Military Department said in an email Tuesday in response to inquiries from The Texas Tribune and Military Times.

He took that risk because, like many other troops on the mission, he wasn’t outfitted with the potentially lifesaving equipment, the Military Times and Texas Tribune reported.

The Texas Military Department ordered rescue ropes and hundreds of ring buoys in February to increase safety for water rescues. But the equipment had not yet arrived to most Guard members at the time Evans died.

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