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Border Agents: 3-Year-Old ‘Lucky To Be Alive’ After Three Days In Desert

June 5, 1985

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A 3-year-old Mexican boy, back home after wandering away from his family’s farm, is lucky to be alive, say U.S. Border Patrol agents who found him lying in the desert naked, dehydrated and exhausted.

Tomas Cabrera was found Saturday night during a search launched when Mexican authorities told border agents that the boy may have wandered from his home near the border city of Tecate into the United States through a hole in the border fence.

″The kid was in bad shape,″ Robert Stille, agent in charge of the Border Patrol’s Campo office in eastern San Diego County, said Monday. ″He’s luck to be alive. That’s rough country out there.″

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. When he returned a few minutes later, the tot was gone.

Agent Mike Gregg found Tomas in a desert area known as Tierra del Sol, a quarter-mile north of the Mexican border and 70 miles east of San Diego, about 30 hours after he was reported missing, Stille said.

Tomas was curled up beneath a bush, naked, exhausted and shivering, he said.

Border 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 came across the boy’s footprints Saturday night, Stille said.

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

Stille estimated that Tomas walked through nearly 15 miles of desert.

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.

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

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