SO identifies immigrant’s body
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Although undocumented immigrants notified the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, April 28, that one of their number had been left behind on the trek through open country, emergency responders arrived at the remote site to find the man dead.
Identified as 21-year-old Mexican citizen Luis Daniel Salas Martinez, the traveler was found lying at the edge of a wooded area near Valley Wells Road in western La Salle County shortly after 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Attempts to locate the man had been fraught by confusing details offered by Martinez’ fellow travelers, according to the sheriff’s office, and GPS coordinates were inaccurate. La Salle Cpl. Michael Hernandez was first to reach the site approximately two hours after officers had been notified of the distress.
“We are unable to determine at this time whether the man had been extremely ill when he was left behind, or whether he had already died,” La Salle Lt. Homar Olivarez said. “He appears to have died while trekking across a ranch. The site was near some river frontage on the property, and there was shade, but he was dead when we reached him.”
Olivarez said it is not unusual for undocumented immigrants to notify authorities if travelers have been left behind, lost or died on their way through the Brush Country.
“When the travelers called, they said it had been three days since they had left the man in the brush,” the lieutenant said. “He was in the vicinity of where they directed us, but the directions were faulty at first. Once we got that sorted out, we went out as quickly as possible, but it was too late.”
Olivarez said the search and recovery were made all the more urgent by an approaching storm on Friday afternoon, although severe weather eventually bypassed the area.
Martinez was pronounced dead at the scene; his body was transported to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office by staff from the Peters Funeral Home. Olivarez said he expects an autopsy to help determine a cause of death.
“There was no sign of foul play, and there was no evidence of an assault or traumatic injury that we could see,” the lieutenant said. “Daytime temperatures have been high lately, and the Brush Country can be very unforgiving. It is dangerous to consider trying to make it on foot through this area without adequate water or shade.”