photo Frank Siteman/Allposters
Christopher Buchleitner, 9, Orphan, Reunited With His Dogs
Border Crosser Who Saved His Life -- Sent Back To Mexico
Thanksgiving night, nine-year old Christopher Buchleitner and his mother were driving home from a camping trip at Peña Blanca Lake near the Mexican border, 60 miles from Tucson.
And then everything went wrong...
Young Chris' father, Jack, had committed suicide several months previously on Labor Day. His mother, Dawn Alice Tomoko, lost control of their car, and went over a cliff. They landed 300 feet from the road. While mom was alive, she was trapped and dying. Christopher wiggled out of the car and started walking away -- in the cold desert night, all alone, down at the base of a cliff. Age nine.
Enter, stage left, a border crosser, Jesus Manual Cordova, 26. He was wandering through the desert. He came upon the boy. Together they returned to the car, comforted the dying mother whom they could not free, built a fire for warmth, and in the morning when hunters came upon them, the young boy and the young border crosser were both alive, as were the boy's dogs -- a golden retriever and a Queensland heeler.
The boy was dusted off to University Hospital in Tucson. The young man was taken by the Border Patrol to Nogales and let go -- on the Mexican side of the border.
If being a citizen is fundamentally the willingness to sacrifice yourself for the good of your community, Jesus Manual Cordova has met the test. Instead of continuing through the desert to freedom, he stopped and rendered aid, knowing the cost.
Any sane society would welcome this young man with open arms, the keys to the city, a full-ride to the University of Arizona, and a passport. The Republican-run Border Patrol shoved his brown-skinned ass right back over the border without even getting an address for the boy's family to write a thank-you card.
The boy is out of the hospital and has his beloved dogs back. He is currently with his uncle's family; whatever happens, he'll be with family we're told, and his dogs will stay with him.
Of Jesus Manual Cordova, there is no sign.
He has vanished into Mexico.
Or hopefully, walked back through the desert again, to a better life.
One final note... the young boy and the young man: they have the same birthday. Make of it what you will. Certainly, the border crosser made it possible that night for the boy to someday, many birthdays from now, become a man.
A man hopefully, as much a man as Jesus Manual Cordova.