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ID released as search continues for missing Texas Guardsman

April 24, 2022 GMT

EAGLE PASS, Texas (AP) — The name of a Texas National Guard member who remains missing after going into the river along the U.S.-Mexico border to help two migrants who appeared to be drowning was released on Sunday by officials.

The Texas Military Department identified the missing Guard member as Specialist Bishop E. Evans, 22, from Arlington.

Evans went missing on Friday as he jumped into the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass along the U.S.-Mexico border in a section of the river known to have strong currents.

Evans is assigned to A Battery, 4-133 Field Artillery Regiment in New Braunfels, the Texas Military Department said in a statement. He joined the Texas Army National Guard in May 2019. Evans left Texas but returned in 2020 after taking part in Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait.

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Dive teams had stopped their operations Saturday evening due to the river’s strong current. Three airboats from the Texas Department of Public Safety helped with the search on Sunday.

The Texas Military Department said Evans was trying to rescue the two migrants when he disappeared.

Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber said Evans took off his jacket and left his radio before going into the water around 8:30 a.m. Friday.

“He jumped in the river,” Schmerber said. “They never saw him come out.

The two migrants were taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. According to the military department, authorities believe the migrants were involved in drug smuggling.

Evans was assigned to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s sprawling border security mission, known as Operation Lone Star, which has deployed thousands of Guard members across Texas’ 1,200-mile (1,920-kilometer) southern border since launching last year. The multibillion-dollar operation also includes a heavy presence of state troopers and authorizes Guard members to help make arrests.

The mission has come under scrutiny over migrants sitting in border jails for months on trespassing charges and low morale among Guard members over living conditions, long deployments and little to do.

Migrant rescues are common in the river along the Texas border, and the attempted crossings are also sometimes deadly.