A 87-year-old American woman has died after suffering a heart attack while waiting six hours in a vehicle to cross the border back into the US from Mexico, after new restrictions sent wait times skyrocketing.
The elderly woman was stuck in a traffic jam Sunday near the San Ysidro Port of Entry in Tijuana when she went into cardiac arrest, according to the Tijuana Municipal Police Department.
The California resident has not yet been named by authorities.
The police department said it received an emergency phone call from the family at 12:20pm before a paramedics team from the Red Cross was dispatched.
The woman had been waiting in traffic with her relatives since 6am local time, according to Telemundo 40.
Her death came just days after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection brought in more checks at the border amid limitations on non-essential travel.
‘The high temperatures and hours of waiting could complicate the conditions of the woman who lost her life,’ one of the paramedics at the scene told Mexican news outlet ZETA Noticias.
Wait times for travelers to enter the United States on vehicles have worsened since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since March 21, the southern international border crossing with Mexico has been limited only to ‘essential travel’, following orders from President Donald Trump’s administration.
But CBP last week announced it would take further steps to reduce non-essential travel at more than a dozen border crossings in Texas, Arizona and California.
The United States on Friday closed lanes at select ports of entry at the border, and was conducting more secondary checks to limit non-essential travel and the spread of coronavirus, a CBP official said.
U.S. citizens and permanent residents can still enter the United States from Mexico. The new measures are aimed at those travelers, the CBP official said.
The United States leads the world with more than 174,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, followed by Brazil with 112,000 and Mexico with 59,000, according to a Reuters tally.
‘We need people to think twice about non-essential travel and to ask themselves if the travel is worth risking their lives and the lives of others,’ El Paso CBP spokesman Roger Maier said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection website reported delays of up to 340 minutes (almost six hours) at 10am Sunday at the San Ysidro crossing.
Telemundo reports that the average wait time for the crossing is usually 74 minutes via the car lanes.
Entry via Ready Lanes, which according to CBP is a ‘dedicated lane for travelers entering the U.S. at land border ports of entry with identification that contains a Radio Frequency Identification [RFID] chip’ had was delayed by 260 minutes when it normally takes 56 minutes.