An illegal Mexican immigrant rescued a 9-year-old American boy stranded in the southern Arizona desert.
Despite his sacrifice, it was an easy choice, he told The Associated Press in a phone interview on Wednesday.
"I am a father of four children. For that, I stayed," Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes said in Spanish from his home in Magdalena de Kino in the Mexican state of Sonora. "I never could have left him. Never."
Authorities say the boy, Christopher Buztheitner, could have died if Cordova had not stopped and helped him stay warm. He had just lost his mother in a car crash, had an injured leg and was wearing shorts that would not have protected him in the desert cold.
Christopher and his mother, 45-year-old Dawn Alice Tomko, had been camping in the area and were driving on a road in a remote area near the Mexican border last week when Tomko lost control of her van on a curve, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said. The van vaulted off a cliff into a canyon and landed 300 feet (91.44 meters) from the road.
Cordova, a 26-year-old bricklayer who was hoping to find work in Arizona, said he was two days into his walk when he spotted Christopher, who had a dog with him and held a side mirror from the van. One of his legs also was scratched up and discolored.
The two could not communicate because Christopher only speaks English and Cordova only speaks Spanish. But Cordova said the boy took him to the canyon's edge and showed him the accident.
For the next 14 hours, Cordova stayed with Christopher and helped him stay warm, giving the boy his sweater and building a bonfire. He also got food out of the car and gave it to the boy. A group of hunters eventually found them and called for help. U.S. Border Patrol agents took Cordova into custody, and Christopher was flown to a hospital in Tucson.
Christopher was reunited with family over the weekend and Cordova was taken back to Mexico.