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3 Hog Hunters Dead After Falling Into Underground Tank Trying to Rescue Dog

The bodies of the three Florida victims and their dog were pulled from an underground tank filled with sewer gas, located in a cornfield in Bastrop, Texas

<p>Bastrop County Sheriffs Office</p> Denise Martinez and Noel Vigil-Benitez have been identified as two of the three victims in the Texas cistern tragedy.

Bastrop County Sheriffs Office

Denise Martinez and Noel Vigil-Benitez have been identified as two of the three victims in the Texas cistern tragedy.

Two men and one woman who were found dead in an underground cistern on Wednesday following unsuccessful attempts to rescue a trapped dog have been identified as members of a hog hunting party from Florida, according to a Texas sheriff.

The victims were identified as Denise Martinez, 26, Delvys Garcia, 37, and Noel Vigil-Benitez, 45, all from the South Florida area. The dog did not survive.

The bodies of the three victims and their dog were pulled from an underground tank filled with noxious sewer gas, located in a cornfield near the town of Elgin, Texas.

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According to the press release published on the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page, "First Responders found what appeared to be an underground cistern that was partially filled with water. There were strong fumes, similar to those of a septic tank, coming from the cistern. First Responders observed no signs of life."

<p>Bastrop County Sheriffs Office</p> Denise Martinez and Noel Vigil-Benitez were part of a hog hunting party when tragedy struck.

Bastrop County Sheriffs Office

Denise Martinez and Noel Vigil-Benitez were part of a hog hunting party when tragedy struck.

An autopsy has been ordered and the bodies were taken to the medical examiner’s office by a local funeral home. The funeral home also took the dog, the sheriff's office said.

The Associated Press reports that Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook said that around 1 a.m. Wednesday, one of the victims apparently tried rescuing their dog, which the sheriff described as a bloodhound after it fell into the hole. The other two victims reportedly jumped into the hole in an attempt to save the first person and the dog.

A fourth person, one man, who was with the hunting party and who remains unidentified, did not go into the cistern with them, but went to the hunting truck to call 911, CBS News reports.

Underground cisterns are typically used for the collection of rainwater and storage of well water. According to Sheriff Cook, the opening of the hole the victims fell into was roughly 4 feet wide and contained 8 feet of water, as well as hydrogen sulfide gas.

Related: Texas Woman Attacked and Killed by Wild Hogs: &#39;It&#39;s One of the Worst Things I&#39;ve Ever Seen&#39;

The sheriff's office explained that the water level within the cistern was far below its ground-level opening, thus preventing any of the victims from escaping the cistern, resulting in the deaths of the two men and one woman.

"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. A decision was made to ventilate the cistern by removing the hydrogen sulfide gas and then removing the water," according to the sheriff's office.

Related: First Responders Adopt Dogs They Rescued from Plane Crash in Wisconsin: &#39;Fell Out of the Sky&#39;

"Efforts were made to dig beside the structure to allow access from the side at a level near where the 3 bodies had been located, but these efforts were soon abandoned since breaching the side would weaken the walls and make entry unsafe," the press release notes.

Once the sheriff’s office, with the support of local fire and utility crews, were able to remove the fumes and water from the cistern and stabilize the air within, a drone was deployed inside the cistern to check the integrity of the underground walls.

A member of the sheriff's office was then successfully lowered into the hole, recovering all three bodies and the bloodhound.

According to the sheriff's department, "Investigation of the events that led up to the individuals being in the cistern is ongoing in order to confirm the reporting of the initial details."

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Read the original article on People.