Soldier drowns in Rio Grande at Hot Springs in Big Bend National Park

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK – A U.S. Army soldier stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso has drowned in the Rio Grande at the Hot Springs in Big Bend National Park, according to the National Park Service.

At about 3:30pm on Saturday, May 18, park dispatch was notified that a visitor was missing after falling into the Rio Grande near the Hot Springs. Witnesses searched the spot where he entered the river, but were unable to locate him.

Park rangers responded, and after an extensive river search, were successful in locating and recovering the body of 19-year old Pfc. Mamady Kaba, an active duty U.S. Army soldier of the 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion stationed at Fort Bliss.

Pfc. Kaba was on a visit to the park with members of his Army unit from Fort Bliss. Witnesses reported to the National Park Service that while playing and swimming along the Rio Grande near the historic Hot Springs area, Kaba slipped and fell into the river and did not resurface. At the time of the incident, the Rio Grande was flowing slowly at 65 cubic feet/second.

Big Bend National Park staff are saddened by this tragic loss of life, and extend their sincere condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Kaba.

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.