|Two BP agents die in train wreck|
Two Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents killed Thursday morning in an on-duty accident when the SUV they were in was struck by a train. Video footage courtesy Fox 10 in Phoenix
|911 call on BP train wreck|
A Union Pacific Railroad dispatcher calls 911, reaching the Maricopa County Sheriff's office to relay information on the crash that killed two Border Patrol agents Thursday morning near Gila Bend. (Image courtesy MGN Online)
Most Viewed Stories
Two Border Patrol agents killed Thursday morning identified
The two Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents killed in an on-duty accident Thursday morning while rushing to help fellow agents capture some suspected illegal immigrants have been identified.
Agent Robert Lowry of Yuma Sector Public Affairs, identified the agents as 34-year-old Eduardo Rojas Jr. and 39-year-old Hector Clark, both of whom were 10-year veterans of the force. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Lowry said the agents were trying to position themselves on a road north of where some other agents who were trying to capture a group of suspected illegal immigrants were located.
Clark and Rojas were driving an official unmarked black SUV at about 6 a.m. when it was struck by a three-engine, 90-car Union Pacific freight train at the railroad crossing of Paloma Road near Exit 106 of Interstate 8, about nine miles west of Gila Bend. The railroad crossing is marked but does not have railroad crossing arms.
The freight train was headed to Yuma and going about 62 mph when it hit the SUV, pushing it about a half-mile down the tracks.
Both Clark and Rojas were lead Border Patrol agents in the Yuma Sector.
Clark began his career with the U.S. Border Patrol on Aug. 20, 2001. After graduating from the 481st Border Patrol Academy, he was assigned to the El Centro Sector and later to the Yuma Sector. A native of Yuma, he is survived by his wife and two children.
Rojas entered the U.S. Border Patrol on April 9, 2000, and was assigned to the Yuma Sector. Rojas was a native of El Paso, Texas, and is survived by his wife and two children.
Before the collision, the train engineers saw the SUV on the access road and blew the train’s horn, said Detective Aaron Douglas of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which along with the FBI is investigating the deaths.
Union Pacific said in a statement that its crew had no warning that the SUV would turn in front of the train. It did not elaborate.
Video taken of the scene shows a lengthy freight train with a badly damaged vehicle in front of the train’s engine. Tarps were placed over some of the wreckage.
Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, including the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Union Pacific police.
Gov. Jan Brewer ordered state flags be flown at half-staff in tribute to the two agents.
Derek Hernandez, president for the local Yuma Border Patrol union, called the accident a tragedy. “They will be missed. It is a dark day for us,. Our prayers go out to the spouses, children and entire Border Patrol family.”
“On behalf of the entire U.S. Customs and Border Protection family, I would like to share our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends, and colleagues of Hector R. Clark and Eduardo Rojas Jr. as we mourn their passing,” said CBP Commissioner Alan D. Bersin.
The Associated Press reported the suspected illegal immigrants were on foot and none of them has been arrested. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is the lead agency investigating the incident with assistance from the FBI.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne released a statement saying, “This tragedy is a reminder to all of us that whether they are facing down a criminal suspect with a weapon, or patrolling the highways and deserts, these law enforcement professionals encounter life-threatening dangers every day.”