Santa Cruz County, AZ – U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Agent Robert Hotten died in the line of duty on Sunday as he was working to locate a group of suspected illegal aliens who had tripped a border ground sensor.
Agent Hotten, 44, was one of three agents who responded to the Mount Washington area of the Coronado National Forest after the sensor was activated at approximately 1 p.m. on Oct.6, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The ground sensor indicated that seven suspected illegal aliens were in the area.
While searching the remote, rugged terrain, Agent Hotten failed to respond to radio transmissions, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
His fellow agents began searching for him, and ultimately found him unresponsive at approximately 4:15 p.m.
Investigators said he may have fallen and struck his head on some rocks while he was searching for the illegal aliens, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
The agents administered medical aid and performed CPR for over two hours, while also working to carry Agent Hotten a quarter mile to an area where an emergency medical helicopter would be able to land.
It took the agents 25 minutes to carry the injured agent that quarter mile.
“These are very steep mountaintops, there were rocks, its uneven ground, high grass…” Tucson Chief Patrol Agent Roy Villareal said during a press conference on Monday. “The effort put forth by the agents was heroic.”
The helicopter transported him to the airport in Nogales, and Agent Hotten was then rushed to a local hospital where he was declared dead.
His exact cause of death is still under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Agents arrested one of the suspected illegal immigrants, and that person is being questioned by the FBI, Chief Agent Villareal told reporters.
Agent Hotten served the U.S. Border Patrol for 10 years and was assigned to the Tucson Sector at the time of his death, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
“On behalf of the U.S. Border Patrol, Tucson Sector, I want to thank the responding agents and emergency response personnel who worked attentively to render aid and secure medical assistance,” Chief Villareal said in a statement, according to KVOA.
“Our deepest sympathies are extended to Agent Robert M. Hotten’s family, friends, and colleagues,” he said. “I ask that you keep Agent Hotten’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”
Agent Hotten leaves behind his wife, son, brother, and mother, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Agent Robert Hotten, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.