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West Texas man and daughter found in Mexico after going missing in Big Bend National Park

Officials said the two were found “alive and well” south of the U.S.-Mexico border over the weekend after a nearly two-week long search.

By Travis Bubenik

A father and daughter from Fort Stockton who went missing in Big Bend National Park in early February were found over the weekend in a “remote” part of Mexico just across the Rio Grande from the park, officials said Tuesday.

In a statement, the national park said 49-year-old Hector Flores, Jr. and his nine-year-old daughter Luna Flores were found in the Mexican state of Coahuila, after local residents there on Sunday reported a man and young girl who were “seeking to purchase food.”

Mexican state police arrived in the area Monday afternoon and confirmed the Flores’ identities, the park said. Officials said both the father and daughter were reported to be in “healthy condition.”

“They weren’t in any sort of starved condition, or in any poor health, but I think they were hoping to maybe have someone there help them out a bit with some food or supplies or something,” Big Bend National Park Spokesperson Tom VandenBerg said in an interview.

VandenBerg said the two were found in a rural part of Mexico just south of the national park’s Daniels Ranch and Hot Spring Canyon areas.

“It’s kind of hard to speculate at this point exactly what happened or why they were down there, but they were encountered at a little, kind of a campsite, kind of hidden in the brush down in that area,” he said.

VandenBerg said the two were already back in the U.S. as of Tuesday afternoon.

While an investigation continues, much of the circumstances surrounding the father and daughter’s disappearance remain a mystery. Officials said the two were last seen in the national park on Jan. 28, after traveling there from Fort Stockton.

VandenBerg previously told Marfa Public Radio that a search for the two began on Feb. 5 after the father’s truck was found abandoned along the northern end of a rugged dirt road. The southern end of the dirt road lets out onto a paved road near the border.

A bitterly cold winter storm swept into West Texas around the time the two were missing, prompting concern from officials and the Flores’ family members.

Hector Flores’ father previously told the Big Bend Sentinel that the family was “surprised he was out there.”

“Both of them liked to be outdoors, mostly fishing and camping,” the elder Flores told the Sentinel. “I just don’t know why they went this time of year when it’s pretty cold out there.”

Vandenberg said the park service would stay involved in the ongoing investigation.

“I think everyone’s going to want to know a little bit more about what happened here,” he said.

Multiple state and federal police agencies were involved in the search for the father and daughter, including Fort Stockton police, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Border Patrol. Big Bend National Park officials on Tuesday also thanked Mexican police and the residents of Boquillas, Mexico - one of the small communities located across the river from the park - for their help in the search.

“It’s pretty amazing, sort of the spirit of the Big Bend, where you have people from both sides of the river cooperating and pitching in together to try to find these folks,” VandenBerg said. “Having it reach this positive outcome is pretty amazing.”

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.