Multiple agencies are still searching for a Texas Army National Guard soldier who went missing on Friday while trying to help two migrants crossing into the U.S. who appeared to be drowning, the Texas Military Department said Sunday.
The department identified the soldier as Texas Army National Guard Specialist Bishop E. Evans, who went missing Friday in Eagle Pass, Texas, while assigned to the U.S.-Mexico border.
A multi-agency search that includes the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Rangers and Border Patrol resumed Sunday. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said earlier that his office is working with law enforcement agencies as well.
According to the TMD, Evans went missing after attempting to help the migrants, who were in distress in the Rio Grande, which separates the U.S. and Mexico. Texas Rangers, which is leading the investigation into Evans, believe the migrants were “involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking,” TMD said in an earlier update. The migrants were taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Search efforts on Saturday were complicated by the strength of the Rio Grande’s currents, which forced rescue teams to halt dive operations. Crews were able to resume the search early Sunday morning.
“The search for the missing TMD soldier will continue until we have exhausted all available resources,” the department said Saturday. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of the soldier.”
Evans, 22, is from Arlington, Texas. He joined the National Guard in May 2019 and spent time in Kuwait under Operation Spartan Shield, the TMD said.
“During this mobilization, his dedication, talents, and tactical prowess led his leadership to regularly assign him to operations in Iraq in support of Special Operations Forces for short periods of time, while then rotating back into Kuwait,” the department’s statement said.
Evans was assigned to Operation Lone Star — a multi-billion dollar initiative launched by Abbott in March 2021 aimed at policing the southern border. While Abbott has insisted the operation is necessary the deter illegal immigration, Democratic lawmakers have criticized it as an expensive and ineffective political stunt.