Fort Bliss Soldier Died May 18 In Big Bend National Park

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.

19-year-old Pfc. Mamady Kaba was playing along the Rio Grande when he slipped and fell in the river. (Courtesy of 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion)

β€œIn 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 Narvaes, a battalion commander in a press release. “He may be gone but will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pfc. Kaba’s family and friends.”

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.

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About Carlos Morales

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director, Border and Immigration Reporter, and Morning Edition Host.
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