An active-duty U.S. soldier died Saturday at Big Bend National Park after he slipped and fell into the Rio Grande.
Pfc. Mamady Kaba, 19, fell into the river near the park's hot springs around 3:30 p.m., park officials said. Rangers later found Kaba's body after an extensive search of the river.
Kaba, a member of the 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, was stationed at Fort Bliss and was visiting Big Bend with members of his unit. Officials said Kaba was playing and swimming along the Rio Grande when he fell in.
When witnesses saw that he failed to resurface, they began looking for him but could not find him.
"Pfc. Kaba was a patriot, a warrior, and integral member of the Tiger Battalion team," battalion commander Lt. Col. Jonathan Narvaes in a statement. "In his short tenure in the Army, he left an indelible impression with impacts that reach all the way up to the Corps level. He may be gone but will not be forgotten."
Kaba was a Riverdale, Ga., native and served as an automated logistical specialist in the battalion's Charlie Company.
The death is under investigation, Fort Bliss officials said.
Park officials said they were saddened by the death and extended their condolences to Kaba's loved ones.
"This tragedy serves as an important reminder that even when water levels are low, hidden hazards exist, and swimming in the muddy waters of the Rio Grande is not recommended," officials said in a statement.
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