Border Patrol agents searching an underground drainage channel in the Tijuana River Valley today found a badly injured man who may have been left for dead by a group of fellow illegal immigrants.
The federal personnel decided to walk through the runoff channel just north of the U.S.-Mexico line after detaining six suspected undocumented immigrants in the area shortly before dawn, authorities said.
Reaching a spot near the bottom of a 30-foot-deep vertical drainage pipe around noon, they found the 50-year-old injured man, who was slipping in and out of consciousness, Border Patrol Agent Jerry Conlin said.
The federal agency notified the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, which sent in crews to rescue the man.
Firefighters removed a grating covering the shaft, then lowered several crew members into the culvert, SDFRD spokesman Maurice Luque said.
The personnel evaluated the man and loaded him onto a stretcher. Crews then hoisted him to the surface and put him in an ambulance, which took him to a waiting emergency-services helicopter.
The aircraft flew the man to UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest for treatment of apparently extensive injuries, according to Luque.
It was unclear how the man had gotten hurt, the spokesman said.
The agents who found him only did so because they "took it upon themselves" to search the runoff channel, Conlin said.
"It's not something they would normally do," he said.
Authorities suspect that the injured man had been left behind by the suspected illegal immigrants arrested earlier in the day, according to Conlin.
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