TUCSON, Ariz. -- It was a soggy start to the day, but that didn’t stop runners from completing the Tucson Sector Border Patrol Memorial 5K run!
The 8th annual event honors Border Patrol agents who lost their lives while on duty.
Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent Robert Sanchez was among the dozens of runners who took part in the memorial run.
He tells KGUN9 he ran to remember his friend who died just a couple of months ago.
“You know, he..he’s not coming home,” said Sanchez as he remembered his fallen colleague.
He says it’s still hard going into work and not seeing his friend by his side.
“Robert Hotten also known as Redline to his motorcycle club, was one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He was just a likeable guy,” said Sanchez.
The agent adds he was on vacation with his family when he got the news Hotten had passed away.
“It was hard for me because I should have been there. He was responding to a sensor, and he wanted to get there as fast as he could to do his job...and they found him unresponsive,” he told KGUN9.
Later, a medical examiner determined agent Hotten had died of natural causes; from a heart condition.
Chief Patrol Agent Roy Villareal says he has the tragic honor of informing family members when an agent dies while on duty.
“There’s no way of describing the emotion that goes through with that. Any time an officer is killed in the line of duty, it drives at your heart. In the 95 year history of the Border Patrol we’ve had 125 agents die in the line of duty. Here in the Tucson Sector, we’ve had 14 deaths,” said the Chief.
Today people ran to honor and remember the fallen agents.
Robyn Nogales participated in honor of her husband, who was a Border Patrol agent who passed away while off-duty.
“My husband was doing this run before he passed and I think he did the run for a year or two, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” she added.
When asked what this walk is all about, many agreed that it was to memorialize the fallen agents, as their way of keeping them alive here on Earth.
“They’re not going to be forgotten. You know, we’re not going to forget them. We hold him close and dear. And we’re here for him and his wife and kid, and for all the other fallen agents who died in the line of duty...we want to take this time to remember them,” said Sanchez.
The BP101FUND is an organization run by volunteers and is behind creating the memorial run.
So far, it’s raised more than $100,000 dollars for family members of fallen agents.
If you would like to help support the organization, click here.