Four migrants were rescued by helicopter and hospitalized after reportedly jumping from a cliff west of Rio Rico early Friday morning.
Another member of the same group was taken to the hospital after suffering dehydration.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol agents requested helicopter assistance after apprehending a group of undocumented border-crossers, four of whom had jumped from a cliff and suffered broken bones.
“They knowingly jumped to avoid apprehension,” CBP spokesman Victor Brabble said.
The injuries included two people with broken legs, one with a broken pelvis and one with a broken jaw, a CBP news release said. Their condition was described as “critical.”
A Blackhawk helicopter from the CBP Office of Air Marine responded and airlifted the injured to a landing zone where they were turned over to paramedics from the Rio Rico Fire District.
According to an RRFD news release, paramedics were dispatched at about 4 a.m. Friday to Forest Road 39 off State Route 289 (Ruby Road) after the Border Patrol reported that a man had fallen approximately 20 feet and broken his ankle. The Border Patrol later updated the report to say that six people had fallen from the cliff, RRFD said.
Three paramedic crews set up a staging area at Peña Blanca Lake, where they received the injured after they were hauled out of a ravine one at a time by the CBP helicopter, which used a basket attached to a line.
After the patients were stabilized at the lake, Lifeline and air-evac helicopters took three of them to University Medical Center in Tucson. Another person was taken by RRFD to UMC via ground transport, and another was taken to Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales. The sixth member of the group refused medical treatment.
According to RRFD, the injuries were “mostly head trauma and multiple fractures.” Two of the victims reportedly suffered from dehydration, not falls.