Three people and a dog tragically died after becoming trapped in a cistern in Bastrop County, Texas. The victims have been identified as Delvys Garcia, Denise Martinez, and Noel Vigil-Benitez. First responders arrived at the scene to find an underground cistern filled with water and strong fumes. The water level and fumes made escape impossible, leading to the deaths. Recovery efforts were hindered by the unstable cistern, but eventually, all victims were recovered. An investigation is ongoing, and autopsies have been ordered. Mary Claire Patton reported
In Bastrop County, Texas, a tragic incident occurred earlier this week, resulting in the deaths of three individuals and a dog who were trapped in a cistern. The victims have been identified as Delvys Garcia, aged 37, Denise Martinez, aged 26, and Noel Vigil-Benitez, aged 45, all hailing from Florida.
The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office received a distress call around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, alerting them to three people stuck in an underground hole in the 300 block of New Trails. Upon arrival, emergency responders discovered a partially filled underground cistern, emitting strong fumes resembling those of a septic tank.
The incident unfolded when a hunting party consisting of three men and one woman found themselves in a cornfield after their dog accidentally fell into the cistern. One member of the group entered the cistern, potentially attempting to rescue the dog. Subsequently, two others followed suit to aid the first person, while a fourth member rushed to his truck to seek assistance and call 911.
Tragically, the water level within the cistern, which was situated at ground level, was too low to allow anyone to escape, leading to the unfortunate demise of the three individuals and their canine companion. The recovery efforts were hindered by the noxious fumes, stagnant water, and the unstable nature of the cistern. Consequently, the decision was made to ventilate the cistern by removing the water and hydrogen sulfide gas.
Despite attempts to excavate alongside the structure for access near the location of the bodies, this approach was abandoned due to the risk of compromising the cistern walls. Consequently, D. Newman, a first responder from the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, volunteered to descend into the cistern once the fumes and water had been eliminated. By 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, he successfully recovered all the victims, including the dog.
An ongoing investigation aims to ascertain the circumstances that led to the victims’ presence in the cistern, and autopsies have been ordered for each of them. The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office has released photographs of Martinez and Vigil-Benitez, while a picture of Garcia is currently unavailable..