TEEX assists in search for missing Border Patrol agents

9/22/2004 12:00 AM

Four employees with the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) were deployed to Cameron County in South Texas on Monday, Sept. 20, to support a multi-agency search operation for two missing U.S. Customs agents.

The latest call-out for TEEX was issued by the Office of the Governor on Monday as part of a multi-national search launched on both sides of the Rio Grande. The agents disappeared Sunday, Sept. 19, when their 19-foot boat capsized near the Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios, about 10 miles south of Harlingen. One agent was rescued shortly after the accident. The operation ended Tuesday, Sept. 21, after the bodies of the two other Border Patrol agents were found.

To support communications during the search and rescue operation, TEEX used a new, state-of-the-art SyTech RIOS (Radio Interoperability System) to link multiple jurisdictions together on one common radio frequency, said Bob McKee, TEEX director of emergency response and rescue. This was the first test of the new device, which is part of an Office for Domestic Preparedness pre-positioned equipment cache.

TEEXans deployed to Cameron County included Jim Yeager, who worked with the McAllen Disaster District Committee, along with technicians Ken Bartnesky and Jeff Bolich, who operated the SyTech RIOS. Rosendo Garcia, an extension instructor with TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute, provided special assistance for the operation with his many contacts in the area.

The dual effort of TEEX Urban Search & Rescue and ESTI helped the local responders receive the support necessary through the State Emergency Management Plan, McKee said.

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Kathy Fraser

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