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February 19, 2015

The Weather Channel Wins George Polk Award for "Real Death Valley" Documentary

The Weather Channel’s documentary, "The Real Death Valley," has been honored with the George Polk Award for Television Reporting as part of the 66th Annual George Polk Awards in Journalism.

“Honoring intrepid reporters,” the Polk Awards is one of the most prestigious prizes in all of journalism.

Correspondent John Carlos Frey and executive producers Solly Granatstein and Marisa Venegas received the award for "The Real Death Valley” and "Muriendo por Cruzar (Dying to Cross)," the English and Spanish versions of a joint investigation from The Weather Channel, Telemundo and The Investigative Fund.

The documentaries reveal the story of hundreds of migrants who have died in the sweltering Texas brush over the past five years, while attempting to evade a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.

"The Real Death Valley" exposes "mass graves" in Texas where migrant bodies have been buried, the role extreme heat and drought have on the dangerous trek, harrowing 911 calls of migrants who waited more than two hours on average for rescue and an exclusive interview with Border Patrol Sector Chief of Operations J.R. Villarreal.

The stories also produced dramatic results—an influx of search and rescue agents to the region that may have already saved lives.

"The Real Death Valley," released both on television and the Internet, was produced by The Weather Channel's digital documentary unit in partnership with Efran Films. Weather's team included correspondent John Carlos Frey, executive producers Solly Granatstein, Neil Katz, Greg Gilderman and Marisa Venegas and associate producer Katie Wiggin.