Authorities have recovered the body of a Texas National Guard member who went missing while attempting to save two drowning migrants at the southern border.
Texas Army National Guard Specialist Bishop E. Evans, 22, lost his life Friday "while trying to selflessly help migrants who appeared to be drowning as they tried to cross the river from Mexico into the U.S," the Texas Military Department said.
Evans' body was found Monday morning after an extensive search involving multiple state agencies. He is presumed to have drowned during the rescue attempt.
“We are devastated by the loss of a member of our Guard family,” said Maj Gen Tom Suelzer, adjutant general for Texas. “We recognize the selflessness of this heroic Soldier who put his life above others in service to our state and national security. The Texas Military Department sends our deepest condolences to the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time”
Evans was assigned to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's Operation Lone Star border initiative, which the governor launched in March to counter illegal immigration and the illegal drug trade.
On Friday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m. local time, Evans jumped into the Rio Grande River in an attempt to save the lives of two migrants who appeared to be drowning. Officials said the migrants, who "were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking," survived and were taken into federal custody, but Evans went missing.
Search and rescue operations lead by the Texas Rangers in partnership with other agencies began Friday and continued over the weekend, until his body was found Monday.
Abbott said in a statement he was "heartbroken" to learn of Evans' death in the line of duty.
"Our National Guard soldiers risk their lives every day to serve and protect others, and we are eternally grateful for the way SPC Evans heroically served his state and country," Abbott said Monday. "I ask that Texans join Cecilia and me in praying for the family and friends of SPC Evans as they grieve this heartbreaking loss."
The governor also thanked the Texas National Guard, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Border Patrol, and local law enforcement "for working around the clock to locate this soldier."
"SPC Evans, 22, a field artilleryman from Arlington, Texas is assigned to A Battery, 4-133 Field Artillery Regiment in New Braunfels Texas, and joined the Texas Army National Guard in May 2019. He returned in the fall of 2020 from mobilization to Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait," the Texas Military Department said in a statement.
"During this mobilization, his dedication, talents, and tactical prowess led his leadership to regularly assign him to operations in Iraq in support of Special Operations Forces for short periods of time, while then rotating back into Kuwait."
"This morning SPC Evans’ body was found and identified by local authorities," said Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican who represents the Eagle Pass area. "This young soldier made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of protecting and serving our country. He will never be forgotten."