Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Honors Heroic Border Patrol Agents Who Risked Their Lives to Save Civilians

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McALLEN, Texas, June 22, 2015 | Rafael Benavides ((956) 725-0639) | comments
Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX28) Today honored the efforts of nine U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector who made split-second decisions that helped save the lives of those in need.

Congressman Cuellar met with U.S. Border Patrol Agents at the McAllen Patrol Station on June 22, where he provided them with Congressional Certificates of Recognition and discussed the heroic actions these agents performed while on duty. The agents saved the lives of numerous civilians in the lower Rio Grande Valley area.

“These agents went above and beyond their call of duty by risking their own lives to save civilians in need,” said Congressman Cuellar. “These agents are the embodiment of what the U.S. Border Patrol stands for—a federal law enforcement agency that is tasked with protecting our borders while following profound codes of professionalism and care when engaging with civilians and our community.”


Congressman Henry Cuellar honored the heroic acts of nine Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector on June 22.


U.S. Border Patrol Agents

Agent Jorge A. Perez of the Rio Grande City Station was on patrol on the riverbanks late at night on September 27, 2014 when he noticed two civilians drowning in the Rio Grande. Agent Perez jumped into the river to save both individuals and successfully pulled them to safety.

Agent Jairo Colon-Soto of the Rio Grande City Station was on duty near Los Olmo’s Creek in Rio Grande City at approximately 10:15 p.m. on April 10, 2009 when three people jumped into an overflowing creek in an attempt to evade arrest. One individual made it to the other side, but the other two struggled to stay afloat and one eventually disappeared underwater. Agent Colon-Soto jumped into the creek, grabbed one individual and towed him to safety by the edge of the creek. He then swam out a second time and rescued the man who had disappeared under water. The man was unconscious and not breathing. Agent Colon-Soto performed chest compressions and resuscitated the man back to life.

Agent Steven Peters of the McAllen Station was patrolling the Rio Grande by boat at approximately 8:45 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2014 when he encountered two people struggling to swim back to Mexico to avoid arrest. Agents threw a lifesaving buoy to help them make it safely to shore, however, one of the individuals began to drown and submerged underwater. Without regard for his own safety, Agent Peters jumped into the water and pulled the immigrant from certain death and safely assisted him to the riverbank. The other individual also made it safely to shore.

Agent Oscar Ponce of the McAllen Station was working near Schuerbach Road in Mission when he saved the lives of three immigrants, who had jumped into Inspiration canal in an attempt to avoid apprehension. Agent Ponce jumped into the canal and brought the three individuals to safety.

Agents Fernando Galvan Jr. and Arturo Gutierrez of the Harlingen Station saved a man’s life on April 29, 2015. The incident occurred when Harlingen Station agents observed marijuana being loaded into a minivan near the community of El Ranchito, south of San Benito on Military Highway 281. The agents attempted to stop the minivan as it left the area; however, the driver attempted to evade agents and sped away, at which time he lost control and struck a tree, which caused the minivan to catch on fire. Agents Galvan and Gutierrez became first responders to the criminals which certainly would have perished if it were not for the quick reaction from the Agents who extracted one person from the burning vehicle and moved another individual, who had been ejected from the vehicle, to a safer location. Additionally, Supervisory Border Patrol Agents Tomas Lopez and Robert Garofalo as well as Border Patrol Agent Jason Newman assisted with controlling the fire while Agents Galvan and Gutierrez saved the man’s life. They also helped moved the rescued individuals to safer locations and assisted with scene safety.
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