Register | Forgot Your Password? | Close

BISBEE, Ariz. (AP) - A 60-year-old National Park Service employee was critically injured in an apparent assault in southeastern Arizona, and her government-owned truck was later found in a border town about 40 miles away, authorities said Thursday.

Karen Gonzales, a uniformed maintenance worker with the Park Service and a longtime seasonal employee, was found unconscious Wednesday afternoon in a picnic area restroom at Chiricahua National Monument.

Gonzales suffered head trauma and was airlifted to a Tucson hospital, where she remained in critical but stable condition, Park Service spokeswoman Michelle Fidler said.

Gonzales' government vehicle was found several hours later in the city of Douglas by tracking the worker's cellphone, which was still inside.

Authorities were processing the vehicle Thursday searching for clues in the case, Fidler said.

"It appears to be an assault and robbery," Fidler said. "We're still investigating all leads."

No suspects have been arrested or identified, authorities said.

Perryn Collier, a spokesman for the FBI in Phoenix, said the agency was assisting in the investigation being conducted by the Cochise County sheriff's office and Park Service law enforcement officials.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas said the pickup truck was found in the middle of the border town of Douglas. There was no immediate evidence that whoever abandoned it had crossed the border into Mexico, she said.

Douglas is about 40 miles south of the national monument, which is in mountains and desert on the east side of a broad valley that runs north from the U.S.-Mexico border.

The region is used by drug smugglers and people entering the United States illegally.

"We do have significant foot traffic and vehicle traffic that's attributed to illegal activity," Capas said.

Deputies were working closely with federal and state law officers to "identify the suspect(s) who apparently seriously injured a federal employee," Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said in a statement released by his office.

The monument was the site of the still-unsolved 1980 disappearance of a Park Service ranger, Paul Fugate, who was last seen when he went on foot patrol.

Also in the region, the unsolved shooting death of a Douglas-area rancher, Rob Krentz, helped spur passage of a 2010 Arizona law targeting illegal immigration.

Krentz was gunned down in March 2010 while checking water lines on his property. Authorities believe- but have never produced substantive proof- that a scout for drug smugglers killed Krentz.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down some parts of the 2010 law two years later, including the requirement that immigrants obtain or carry immigration registration papers. But the high court upheld a requirement that Arizona officers question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
share this story:
Attention KTAR.com Comment Users: We have recently changed our comments boards.
We would like you to be part of the conversation and The Voice of Arizona by logging in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing KTAR (Arizona Sports) account members will need to create a Disqus account or use one of the aforementioned social media logins. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus

World Class Arizona

  • Dignity Health

    World Class People. World Class Company. Excellent care, delivered with compassion, for all in need.
  • CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company

    SCF Arizona has a new name. They are now CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company.
  • Taylor Morrison

    World Class People. World Class Company. We are a national home builder committed to building homes inspired by you.
  • Go Daddy

    World Class People. World Class Company. Go Daddy is a Fortune 100 "Best Companies to Work For."
  • Avnet

    World Class People. World Class Company. Here's information on a Fortune 500 company from Arizona.

Voice For A Better Arizona

  • Working For Arizona

    The business and economics of Arizona at the start of 2014 and looking forward.
  • Arizonans In Need

    Putting a focus on charities and organizations who provide help and/or need your help to fulfill their missions.
close

Share: