A U.S. Border Patrol agent who died after responding to sensor activity in the Patagonia Mountains earlier this month died of natural causes, the area’s chief medical examiner said.
Robert Hotten, a 44-year-old agent posted to the Sonoita Station, died of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, said Dr. Gregory Hess of the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, which also serves Santa Cruz County.
“That means he has coronary artery disease, or narrowing of the coronary arteries, and the manner of death is natural,” Hess said on Tuesday.
According to previous Border Patrol reports, Hotten and two other agents went to investigate a sensor activation on Mount Washington at around 1 p.m. on Oct. 6. When Hotten could not be reached by for an extended period of time, the other agents went looking for him and found him unresponsive at approximately 4:15 p.m.
Because of the ruggedness of the terrain, agents were unable to evacuate Hotten to a helicopter landing zone a quarter-mile away until approximately three hours later. From there he was transported to the hospital in Nogales, where he was pronounced dead.
Speaking at a news conference on Oct. 7, Roy Villareal, the Tucson Sector’s chief patrol agent, said that when Hotten was found, it appeared that he had fallen “and may have hit his head on some rocks," though he added that "at this stage, we're not sure sure if that was the cause of death, or if it was something else, some other underlying factor."
Hotten was the 14th Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent to die in the line of duty, Villareal said at the time. He is survived by his wife, son, mother and brother.