A U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in an ATV accident while on patrol near Fort Hancock early Friday evening, officials said Saturday.
Agent Leopoldo Cavazos Jr., 29, died in an ambulance on the way to an El Paso hospital, Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said.
Border Patrol officials did not release any details on how the crash occurred because they said the accident was under investigation. Fort Hancock is about 40 miles east of El Paso.
The Border Patrol regularly uses all-terrain vehicles to patrol the desert and other areas that regular vehicles have difficulty reaching.
"Every day, agents of the U.S. Border Patrol face inherent dangers as they serve our nation and their citizens with commitment, professionalism and enthusiasm," the Border Patrol said in a news release.
Officials said Cavazos was originally from Houston and graduated from the Border Patrol Academy in 2006. He is survived by a wife and two children.
Cavazos had been assigned to the Border Patrol station in Fort Hancock since graduating from the academy.
He had also taken part in various border operations in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Cavazos was the first agent to die in the line of duty in the agency's El Paso sector in more than five years. The sector covers all of New Mexico and part of far West Texas.
The previous agents in the El Paso region to die in the line of duty were Ramon Nevarez, Jr., 23, and David Tourscher, 24, who were killed when their patrol vehicle rolled several times on a remote road southwest of Lordsburg in March 2007.
The fatal accident on Friday was the latest line-of-duty death in the Border Patrol since two agents, including one who was from El Paso, were killed in a train-vehicle collision last year. Eduardo Rojas Jr., 35, of El Paso, was killed along with Hector R. Clark, 29, when their vehicle was hit by a train while they assisted in a pursuit near Gila Bend, Ariz.
More than 110 agents have died in the line of duty since the Border Patrol was established in 1924, said Amber Rudd, the collections manager at the National Border Patrol Museum in Northeast El Paso. A memorial to fallen agents is housed at the museum on Trans Mountain Road.
"I don't think that many people realize the dangers of the job," Rudd said.
Copyright 2012 - El Paso Times, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune News Service