She probably never imagined things would go so wrong — that she’d end up here, on a scuffed metal gurney in a coroner’s office far from home.
Still, at age 22, she was old enough to know the dangers of stealing across the U.S. border from Mexico onto a lethal desert landscape, where she would have to take crazy chances amid the heat, cold and rattlesnakes to avoid capture by la migra, the U.S. Border Patrol.
Her body was found in early 2009 near a service road, a two-day walk from the border. She had died of exposure: Her system simply shut down in the high desert’s frigid winter temperatures.
Within days, workers at the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an inventory of the left-behind fragments of her short life. Inside her backpack were family photos, a Spanish-English dictionary, lip gloss, four pens, pink-and-white socks and an ID from Oaxaca that described her as a preschool teacher.
More than 700 bodies remain unidentified. This story is heartbreaking.