SAN DIEGO (CBSLA) — Five Mexican nationals were taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents after they became lost in a California desert and resorted to drinking urine after running out of water, authorities said.

Just before 8 p.m. on Sept. 27, California Highway Patrol dispatchers relayed information to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Campo Border Patrol Station information about five individuals who had called 911 to report they were lost in the desert, according to a Border Patrol spokesperson.

Agents were deployed to a remote area near Pine Valley, about 30 miles east of El Cajon and nine miles north of Interstate 8, where they made contact with one of the individuals, who told them his party was in distress.

“The individual informed the agent they were in distress, had run out of water many hours before, and had resorted to drinking urine. One individual was also unable to walk due to a foot injury, and was vomiting and suffering from extreme heat distress,” according to a CBP statement.

When Border Patrol dispatched a helicopter crew towards the station to pick up Border Patrol Agents from the USBP’s San Diego Sector Border Search, Trauma, and Rescue Unit (BORSTAR), the helicopter crew “spotted a signal fire the group had lit and landed to assess the situation”, authorities said.

A Mexican national found in the California desert receives treatment from U.S. Border Patrol agents and EMS. (Photo courtesy CBP)

From there, the crew provided the group with water and continued to the station to return with additional BORSTAR agents.

During the trip back to the group, the agents used ATVs as transportation and “even had to resort to a ride to the scene on a rail cart courtesy of a railroad employee in the area.”

Officials say the railroad employee and the BORSTAR agents also used the rail cart to bring the group back out of the desert, and back to the station for processing and further evaluation.

Authorities later identified all five individuals as Mexican nationals, including one juvenile female. All five were processed for removal.

One of them was transported to a nearby hospital for evaluation and treatment. He was subsequently discharged and released back to the custody of the Border Patrol, officials said.


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