August 24, 2010
This year, Arizona became known as the state with the toughest policies against illegal immigration. That's why Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Eric Peters didn't think thePima County coroner would see a surge in migrants killed while trying to cross Arizona's southern deserts.
But despite beefed-up efforts to stem illegal immigration and an economy that makes work harder to come by, migrants are still trying to get into the country. And many are dying.
In 2007, a record 218 bodies were found in Pima County. This year, the death toll could be worse. Already, authorities have recovered the remains of 170 migrants.
"We're kind of looking at a record-breaking year this year," Peters said.
July was the worst month of this year so far, with 59 people found dead. More than half of them died from heat-related causes. On July 15, the deadliest day of the month, seven bodies were found, among them the remains of Omar Luna Velasquez, 25. The high temperature that day was 108 degrees.