As a rabid sports fan, Rogelio Martinez had planned a gathering at his El Paso home to watch the Mexico City showdown between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots on Sunday.
“Pero ya el domingo no regresó,” a heartbroken Jose Martinez said in Spanish explaining that his son, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, never made it home on Sunday.
Rogelio Martinez, 36, died Sunday after he and his Big Bend sector partner were injured while responding to a call near Van Horn, Texas, late Saturday night.
His partner, who has not been identified, remains hospitalized in serious condition, officials said.
Authorities have released few details about the incident, which remains under investigation, but some national union leaders have said that the agents were ambushed and pelted with rocks.
His voice breaking during a telephone interview Monday with the El Paso Times, Jose Martinez described the 3 a.m. phone call that jolted him awake the previous day.
It was his son’s supervisor telling him Rogelio was in an accident about 120 miles east of El Paso. Jose Martinez said he rushed to the hospital but did not wake his wife. He thought perhaps it was a car crash.
When he arrived, he was told his son had suffered three cardiac arrests.
Jose Martinez said doctors did everything possible to save Rogelio’s life. Their efforts were unsuccessful.
He said Rogelio and the other agent suffered serious head injuries, describing his son’s head as “destroyed.”
What was supposed to be a football Sunday — perhaps filled with disappointment over the Raider’s 33 to 8 loss to the Patriots — instead turned into a day of mourning filled with disbelief, sadness and heartache.
The family is still waiting for more information about the incident, but Jose Martinez said he believes his son was the victim of an attack.
“We really don’t yet know how it happened and when it happened,” the crying father said.
Rogelio Martinez, a 1999 graduate of Irvin High School in Northeast El Paso, is survived by his 11-year-old son, Sergio Martinez, his parents and three siblings.
He was a friendly person who was always quick with a smile, Jose Martinez said.
The father recalled his son’s excitement when he was accepted into the Border Patrol Academy, adding that he died serving his country.
Many agents who work in the Big Bend sector live in El Paso. Rogelio and his co-workers often carpooled to their night shift duty, his father said.
“Unfortunately, he had a very dangerous work shift,” Jose Martinez said.
Every day before leaving to work, Rogelio Martinez would call his dad to say goodbye for the night.
“And I would tell him, ‘Take care of yourself son. God bless you,'” the father said as he cried for the son he lost.
Aileen B. Flores may be reached at 546-6362; firstname.lastname@example.org; @AileenBFlores on Twitter.
Story copied from: The El Paso Times