On Monday, 25 Mexican Nationals were being smuggled through the Rim country with dreams of finding good jobs in America. These were young men who had paid $1,200 each to people who promised them safe passage into the United States.
The people who took their money are sometimes called "coyotes." This nickname is due to the nature of their work -- illegally smuggling people across the border to find jobs and housing in this country. But the term "coyotes" also fits the way they reacted Monday evening. Like coyotes, these hired hands ran away at the first sign of trouble with little concern for the lives of others.
One of the vans they were using to transport their human cargo broke down in the middle of our heavy snowstorm. The coyotes told the men to scatter in the forest and wait for their return -- but they never came back.
Separated in the frozen forest, they waited. They were not prepared for the cold weather or the sudden abandonment. Some were only dressed in T-shirts and jeans, but they waited while the snow fell.
After four hours, 14 of these young men started walking and made it to Payson. One group dialled 911 and were taken to the temporary shelter at Rim Country Middle School. Eleven are still missing.
It's easy to be critical of people who illegally enter our country to compete for American jobs. But it's important to remember that these young men were willing to take risks to better support their families.
It is doubtful that many of us in the United States can truly understand the challenges these men faced while trying to carve out a living in their homelands.
When they asked for help here, residents didn't treat them as "illegal aliens," only as people whose lives were in danger. The staff at Jack-in-the-Box restaurant donated food. The local Red Cross also provided food and assistance.
The men will be taken to Phoenix, interviewed and driven back to Mexico. It is likely that some of them will try to come to America again. And while we might point fingers and cry foul, it's a good time to look around us and be thankful for the country we live in and the good people we live with.