Border Patrol Agents Juan Cruz Jr. and Marcus Johnson

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection, TX)

On October 19, 2015, Border Patrol Agents Juan Cruz Jr. and Marcus Johnson responded to a call for assistance by agents working border enforcement duties around the Settling Basin (County Water Reservoir) near Hidalgo, Texas. A subject had jumped into the water basin and was struggling to stay afloat. The subject was frantically screaming for help as he periodically dipped below the surface of the water.

Agents Cruz and Johnson quickly determined that the subject was in danger of drowning and immediately went into action. Without hesitation or consideration for their own safety, the agents quickly improvised a safety line from tow straps and courageously entered the cold water in an attempt to rescue the subject. Unfortunately, the improvised safety line was not long enough to reach the subject and the dangerous conditions forced the agents to return to land.

Agent Cruz swam out for a second time in an attempt to throw the subject a floatation device, but that attempt also failed due to the subject’s panicked state of mind. Upon the arrival of the City of Hidalgo Fire Department, the agents were informed that the fire department would not attempt a rescue due to policy constraints dealing with the dangers involved in a night-time water rescue.

Both agents ignored the injuries they had suffered to their bare feet during their previous rescue attempts and volunteered to try to rescue the subject. They borrowed life vests from the fire department and re-entered the dangerous water. On this third attempt the agents managed to reach the subject, provide him with a life vest, and successfully extract him from the water. The subject was examined by emergency medical technicians at the scene and found to be in good health and not in need of further medical attention. Both agents were treated for their injuries at a local hospital and released the same night.

The actions of Agents Cruz and Johnson demonstrate extraordinary bravery and a willingness to save the lives of others, without regard to their own personal safety.

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