Officials from the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office said three people died in Elgin, Texas, after falling into a cistern partially filled with water. 

The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office said it is believed that one of the victims ended up in the underground tank in an attempt to rescue a dog that fell in. The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office said two others are believed to have followed, trying to help rescue the first person who had jumped in. 

A fourth person opted to return to their truck to call 911 and get assistance. 

The dog also died along with the three people. 

Delvys Garcia, 37, Denise Martinez, 26, and Noel Vigil-Benitez, 45, were all identified as victims. All three victims are from Florida. 

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The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office said the group was out hog hunting at 1 a.m. on Wednesday when they became trapped in the hole. It was not until 7:30 p.m. Wednesday before the recovery effort was completed. 

Officials said the uncovered cistern was partially filled with water and had strong fumes similar to a septic tank.

“The fumes, the stagnant water, and the instability of the cistern hampered recovery efforts and prevented first responders from initially climbing into the man-made structure,” the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office wrote. “A decision was made to ventilate the cistern by removing the hydrogen sulfide gas and then removing the water. Still, the integrity of the structure was in question. Efforts were made to dig beside the structure to allow access from the side at a level near where the three bodies had been located, but these efforts were soon abandoned since breaching the side would weaken the walls and make entry unsafe.”

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