Eggle, Kris

by Whitney Beck

Kris Eggle was an Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument ranger who was murdered in 2002 while pursuing drug smugglers in the park.  His exemplary life and tragic death have come to symbolize the dangerous predicament National Park Service staff face in managing a border park. 

Kris William Eggle was born on August 15, 1973, in the small town of Cadillac, Michigan. Growing up, Eggle became known as a young man of accomplishments. Eggle became an Eagle Scout, a National Honor Society Student, and a high school valedictorian.[1] He was also a very talented runner, running track and cross-country for his high school and eventually the University of Michigan. In 1995, Eggle joined the National Park Service as a ranger at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, fulfilling a lifetime career goal. Later, between 1998 and 2000, he served at Canyonlands National Park.[2] He joined Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in 2000.  His duties there included prevention of drug trafficking through the park’s southern border, which abuts Mexico.

While patrolling on August 9, 2002, Eggle heard a radio report that the Mexican police were chasing a stolen SUV that had just crossed through a hole in the international fence into Organ Pipe.[3] Eggle and border patrol agent Isaac Cohen immediately responded to the radio report and began their pursuit of the fugitives. When Eggle and Cohen caught up to the men one of them had surrendered, and the other took off across the desert on foot. Eggle began to sprint after the second fugitive. As he caught up with the cartel, member Eggle was shot three times. He died soon after. A friend and fellow Organ Pipe ranger commented, “Kris died serving his country and his death has great value and meaning. But the life of Kris Eggle, even more than his death, continues to set the standard.”[4]

The story of Kris Eggle continues to fuel the debate over the park and its problems with illegal drug trafficking, amongst other illegal activities. On November 22, 2003, the United States Congress designated Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument’s visitor center the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. [5]

[1] “Kris’ Story,” (Accessed February 12, 2012).

[2] “Kris’ Story,” (Accessed February 12, 2012).

[3] Tom Clynes,  National Geographic Adventure Magazine, “National Park War Zone: Arizona’s Organ Pipe National Monument,” February 2003.

[4] “Kris’ Story,” (Accessed February 12, 2012).

[5] Organ Pipe National Monument, “Who is Kris Eggle?” (Accessed February 12, 2012).