Three survivors of border crossing released from hospital
PHOENIX (AP) – Three survivors of a border crossing in the Arizona desert that killed 14 immigrants were released Monday into U.S. Border Patrol custody.
The three were among 26 illegal immigrants who were abandoned by smugglers in southwestern Arizona on May 19. Thirteen immigrants perished before they were found; a teen-age boy died on the way to the hospital.
The immigrants spent five days in temperatures as high as 115 degrees after smugglers told them they were leaving to get water and never returned, officials said. Mexican authorities planned to return the bodies home by Wednesday night.
Eight survivors were released from the hospital into U.S. Border Patrol custody on Saturday and Sunday. The last survivor who remained hospitalized was in good condition Monday.
The Border Patrol was holding the men and teen-age boys who were released from the hospital at the Yuma County Adult Detention Facility. They were being held as witnesses in an investigation of the smuggling operation.
Officials said they also must check the immigrants for any past deportations or criminal activity before they will be turned over to Mexican authorities and sent home.
The Border Patrol declined to release the immigrants’ names. Officials denied reporters’ requests to interview the survivors.
The immigrants, who were from the Mexican states of Veracruz and Guerrero, had crossed the border into southern Arizona in the Cabeza Preieta National Wildlife Refuge.
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