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Toddler Nursed Back To Health After 30-Hour Desert Ordeal

June 5, 1985

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A 3-year-old Mexican boy stranded in the desert without food and water for at least 30 hours was rescued by U.S. Border Patrol agents and taken to a hospital, where he was nursed back to health, officials said.

The toddler, identified as Tomas Cabrera, was found midnight Saturday curled up beneath a bush, naked, exhausted and dehydrated, Robert Stille, agent in charge of the Border Patrol’s Campo office in eastern San Diego County, said Monday.

The boy was found by border agent Mike Gregg, who was part of a search detail organized after Mexican authorities told the Border Patrol on Friday night that the boy was missing and may have wandered into the United States through a hole in the border fence.

U.S. border patrol officers scoured the desert from the Tecate border crossing to Jacumba, 20 miles east of San Diego, on Friday night and all day Saturday before Gregg found the boy’s footprints, Stille said.

Gregg followed the trail and found him in a desert area known as Tierra Del Sol, a quarter-mile north of the Mexican border and 70 miles east of San Diego, Stille said.

″The kid was in bad shape,″ Stille said, adding Tomas was naked and shivering.

The boy was transported to Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he was treated for exposure, dehydration and numerous cuts on his feet and face before being released to his parents on Monday, hospital spokesman Vince Bond said.

″From what we’ve been told, the young boy simply walked away from his parent’s property and got lost,″ Bond said.

Stille estimated that Tomas walked through nearly 15 miles of desert after wandering off his family’s farm in Tecate, Mexico.

″He’s luck to be alive. That’s rough country out there,″ Stille said.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service waived normal border- crossing procedures Saturday to enable the boy’s family to visit him in the hospital.

Also, Children’s did not bill the family for Tomas’ treatment, Bond said.

Vicente Rea Cabrera, the boy’s father, said he had left Tomas sitting atop a rock Friday while he worked in a field on their farm just outside Tecate. When he returned a few minutes later, his son was gone and the family reported him missing.

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