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Authorities ID Border Patrol agent killed in solo crash in California

U.S. Border Patrol agents and officers will soon begin wearing body cameras as they patrol the southwestern and northern borders. (Dreamstime/TNS)

County officials on Monday identified the U.S. Border Patrol agent who died early Friday in a rollover crash near the international border as Santee resident Daniel Humberto Salazar.

According to the Border Patrol, Salazar, 40, joined the agency in June 2018 and was assigned to the El Cajon station within the San Diego Sector. He was married and had a son.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Salazar died from multiple blunt force injuries apparently sustained in the solo-vehicle crash.

The Border Patrol has released few details about the incident. According to a tweet from the Border Patrol union, Salazar crashed while “responding to sensor activity.”

The National Border Patrol Council did not respond Monday to a request for comment, but Border Patrol agents use different types of sensors — including ground sensors and radio frequency sensors, as well as surveillance technology and other tools — to monitor the border.

It’s unclear when Salazar crashed, but it occurred on a dirt road off Bell Valley Truck Trail between Campo and Potrero, in an area just north of the border and southwest of Campo Road. Another agent found the wrecked SUV around 5:30 a.m.

The vehicle ended up overturned and was heavily damaged, Cal Fire Capt. Neil Czapinski said Friday.

The agent who found Salazar’s vehicle discovered it “in the middle of an embankment with the lights on” and radioed for help, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office. A second agent at the scene found Salazar “lying unresponsive on the ground next to the damaged vehicle.”

A Border Patrol spokesperson on Monday declined to provide further details about the crash, citing the California Highway Patrol investigation.

A CHP spokesperson did not respond late Monday afternoon to a request for more information.

“This Border Patrol agent died while performing his duty, protecting our great Nation, and keeping our communities safe,” San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said in a news release. “Our prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”

Along with his wife and son, Salazar is survived by his parents, a brother and two sisters, according to the Border Patrol.

Salazar was the first Border Patrol agent in 2022 to die while on duty, and the third killed in a crash since the beginning of 2021, according to Department of Homeland Security records.

A head-on crash last July in Arizona killed Agent Daniel Cox and the driver of the other vehicle. Cox was assigned to the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector.

In March of last year, Agent Alejandro Flores-Bañuelos was struck and killed in Imperial County while helping motorists during a dust storm that produced low visibility. According to officials, Flores-Bañuelos was helping the occupants of a car that was disabled on a roadway near Salton City when another driver struck the disabled car and the agent, fatally injuring him.


© 2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.