NEAR McCOOK — Authorities found a teen’s body Tuesday in a retention pond near McCook after he apparently drowned there earlier in that day.
The Mission Fire Department dive team located the body about 7:45 p.m. — more than five hours after the teen reportedly went under about 2:30 p.m.
The incident occurred near the intersection of Mile 14 North and Moorefield Road, fire officials said.
A friend of the teen who was at the scene identified the victim as 16-year-old Israel Infante.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said the boy was with a group of friends swimming in the retention pond, which has an island near its center. The group was trying to swim toward the island when the teen went under. His friends were unable to save him.
The teen's friend Martin Contreras, 15, said Infante was swimming with three other boys when he got tired and began to sink.
Contreras, who was not with the group at the time, sat bleary-eyed with the boy’s family Tuesday afternoon beneath the shade of a slender tree near the pond.
“We’re all friends,” Contreras said. “We hang around and all that.”
The teen said the boys were racing in the pond when Infante grew tired. A friend tried to pull the boy out of the water. But when the friend began to drown as well, he swam away to call for help.
“He was trying to make it to the little island,” Contreras said of Infante. “He got on his back. ... The other guy was drowning, too.”
Sheriff's deputies investigating what caused Infante to go under left the scene by about 8:45 p.m.
Officials said there was some confusion initially regarding the incident, with the victim first reported as being a 6-year-old boy. About 4:30 p.m., a crew using sonar equipment found an object in the water believed to be Infante's body. While the dive team prepared to go in, Alton emergency responders continued dredging the murky, muddy pond, frequently circling the island the boys had been trying to reach.
“We wanted to make sure it was safe for our people to go in,” said Mission Fire Chief Rick Saldaña. Several hours later, the dive team plunged into the water from the island and found the body within 20 minutes.
“This was what we call black water,” Saldaña said, noting the poor visibility in the water makes rescue and recovery efforts even more perilous than usual.
During the search, the boy’s father, also named Israel Infante, grew impatient and begged emergency responders to allow his friend to dive into the water to search for his son.
“I just want to find him,” the father said about 5 p.m.
But officials would not allow it for fear the man would place himself in danger.
“The last thing we needed was another victim in the water,” Saldaña said.
Ana Ley covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. She can be reached and (956) 683-4428.