Migrant girl, 6, dies of heat stroke in Arizona as mum looks for water

ARIZONA • A six-year-old girl from India died of heat stroke in an Arizona desert after her mother left her with other migrants to go in search of water, a medical examiner and United States Border Patrol said on Friday.

The girl, Gurupreet Kaur, soon to celebrate her seventh birthday, was found by US Border Patrol west of Lukeville, Arizona, on Wednesday, when temperatures reached a high of 42 deg C, US Border Patrol and the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner said.

The girl's death, the second recorded fatality of a migrant child this year in Arizona's southern deserts, highlighted the danger of summer heat as a surge of migrant families, mainly from Central America, cross the US-Mexico border to seek asylum.

An increasing number of Indian nationals are entering the United States from Mexico, according to immigration officials.

They are among thousands of Africans and Asian migrants making the arduous journey, led by smuggling cartels.

The girl and her mother were among a group of five Indian nationals dropped off by smugglers in a remote border area at 10am on Tuesday, 27km west of Lukeville, a US border town 80km south-west of Tucson.

After walking some way, the girl's mother and another woman went in search of water, leaving her daughter with a third woman and her child.


"Once they went to look for water, (the others) never saw them again," said US Border Patrol agent Jesus Vasavilbaso.

The mother and the other woman wandered in the rugged Sonoran desert wilderness for 22 hours before being found by a US Border Patrol agent who tracked their footprints.

Four hours later, Border Patrol officers found the body of the girl 1.6km from the border.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 16, 2019, with the headline 'Migrant girl, 6, dies of heat stroke in Arizona as mum looks for water'. Print Edition | Subscribe