By Carlos Morales
A soldier stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso died May 18 while visiting Big Bend National Park after he slipped and fell into the Rio Grande, according to park and army officials.
According to witness accounts, 19-year-old Pfc. Mamady Kaba was swimming along the Rio Grande near the hot springs area when he fell. Park officials say witnesses attempted to search for Kaba after he slipped into the water, but were unable to locate him.
By approximately 3:30 p.m. park officials were notified that Kaba was missing. After a lengthy search, park rangers found Kaba, but it remains unclear what caused the teenage soldier’s death.
“In his short tenure in the Army, he left an indelible impression with impacts that reach all the way up to the Corps level,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan
That day, park staff say the river was flowing slowly at 65 cubic feet per second.
“This tragedy serves as an important reminder that even when water levels are low, hidden hazards exist, and swimming in the muddy waters of the Rio Grande is not recommended,” read a statement from Big Bend National Park.