We drove into New Mexico and headed north on Highway 80 towards I-10, and the rain was pretty heavy. Just after crossing San Simon River we saw a car on the side of the road with it's flashers on.....Bud said what's that crazy guy doing standing out in the rain? As we got closer we could see it was a middle aged woman in scrubs and she waved us down. We couldn't really just drive by a woman stranded in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain. So, we pulled in front of her vehicle and this gal tells us she ran out of gas because there was no gas in Rodeo. We should've known right then that her story was hokey. Anyone in the area knows you have to fuel up in Willcox, Lordsburg or Douglas before driving Highway 80. Second mistake.
We told her the closest gas was 60 miles away, but we'd give her a ride to Willcox, and she'd have to find her own way back. She said she had a group of kids she was taking to Willcox for physicals so they could participate in school sports. We could not see anyone in her car in the driving rain. We only had room for one person, so Bud suggested we drive back to Portal with "Sarah" (probably a fake name) 'cause we had a can of gas in our shed and she could make it to Willcox with that. "Sarah" told the kids to stay in the car and we'd be back with gas in 1/2 an hour. (in hindsight, we should've thought that was strange too, but being trusting people, we didn't start to question her story yet)..Third mistake.
We drove back to Portal, rain was pretty heavy here and there. She asked me for our name and address so she could send us an official thank you letter, (hope that doesn't come back to haunt us). We got the gas can and headed back to "Sarah's" car. On the drive she told us she worked for the state, mostly on the Indian Reservations working in childrens' health programs for Health E Arizona. These kids however were not Native Americans and she was unable to recall where she picked them up.....that some of them didn't speak English.....yeah, you know where this is going. She offered us $20 for our help which I told her to Pay it Forward.
Well, as we approached her vehicle there were a half dozen Border Patrol vehicles with lights flashing and a guy on the roof of one car with binoculars looking off into the hills. "Sarah" then says "don't stop, just drive by 'til I figure out what's going on, because I don't know if these kids are legal or not".......
We didn't make a fourth mistake, Bud said "I have to stop". The lightbulb finally went off and we both knew then that we were in the process of assisting a human smuggler and we weren't about to help her any more.
All the doors of "Sarah's" car were open and the obvious illegal occupants had taken off across the muddy desert in the rain. The Border Patrol had them in their sights and were rounding them up. They told us to wait in the truck, that "Sarah's" vehicle was being seized and they would talk to us shortly. Well, I got in the truck. Bud & "Sarah" stood outside our truck. Bud told the Border Patrol we had just picked her up and taken her to get some gas and had no knowledge of the other occupants in her car......."Sarah's" story to the Border Patrol was that she had picked them up on the side of the road hitchhiking. HMMMMMM.....that's not what she told us, so Bud talked to one of the BP officers and told him she told us a different story. The officer told us we were free to go, but "Sarah" was under arrest. They were putting her in the back of their vehicle as we drove away.
So, lesson learned. We will not stop to help someone in the driving rain again. We will simply call 911 and let the authorities handle it.