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Fall might have preceded Border Patrol agent's death near Patagonia, officials say

Fall might have preceded Border Patrol agent's death near Patagonia, officials say


A Border Patrol agent might have been injured in a fall Sunday while patrolling near Patagonia before he died, officials said Monday.

The official cause of death for the agent, Robert Hotten, 44, a 10-year veteran with the agency, has yet to be determined. He was found unresponsive by fellow agents near Mount Washington, south of Patagonia, according to the Tucson Sector Border Patrol.

It appears Hotten fell and possibly hit his head on some rocks while checking on sensor activity after 1 p.m. Sunday, said Roy Villareal, the Tucson Chief Patrol Agent, during a Monday afternoon news conference at the agency's headquarters in Tucson.

Agents went looking for Hotten after he failed to answer radio calls. They found Hotten about 4:15 p.m. The agents started life-saving efforts, including initiating CPR for more than two hours, while trying to get him medical care, Villareal said. 

The terrain in the remote area is “extremely rugged," Villareal said, so agents carried Hotten about a quarter-mile to an area where a medical helicopter could land.

Hotten was airlifted to the Nogales airport and then taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.  

Agents say it appears a group of about seven migrants set off a sensor in the area Hotten was checking.

On Monday, Villareal thanked agents who tried to revive Hotten. “The effort put forth by the agents was heroic,” he said.

Hotten is survived by his wife, son, mother and brother.

It is the agency's fourteenth line-of-duty death in the Tucson Sector, Villareal said. 

The FBI is leading the investigation.

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or

On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1

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