At least five people died on Sunday in South Texas after an SUV carrying a dozen unauthorized immigrants crashed while trying to speed away from Border Patrol agents and local officials, the authorities said.
Several others were injured when they were ejected from the SUV, which was speeding about 100 miles per hour when it rolled over, the authorities said. The crash happened in Dimmit County, about 125 miles southwest of San Antonio.
Marion Boyd, the Dimmit County sheriff, said two United States citizens — the driver and one passenger — were trying to smuggle 12 unauthorized immigrants. He said his office would work with federal officials to charge the driver and the passenger, adult males who had not been identified.
The crash is also being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the United States Border Patrol and other federal agencies.
Sheriff Boyd said he believed that the 12 people in the back of the vehicle were undocumented immigrants because officials found foreign passports on some of the deceased. Some of the injured passengers were well enough to speak, he said, and could be interviewed.
“This is a typical smuggling situation,” he said.
All 14 people in the vehicle were adults, Sheriff Boyd said.
The chase began around noon Sunday, when United States Border Patrol agents tried to pull over the driver of a black Chevrolet Suburban. When the driver did not stop, the agents started to chase him and then the sheriff’s office took over, Sheriff Boyd said.
Four people were found dead at the scene, another died at a hospital and a sixth person was in critical condition, Sheriff Boyd said.
None of the victims’ names have been released.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those who died in the crash,” the United States Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.
It’s not uncommon for immigrants traveling into the United States illegally to be crowded into vehicles for transport, or for them to die in crashes near the border.
In 2015, six people were killed outside Houston when the driver of a vehicle overloaded with immigrants sped away from officers and lost control. And in 2012, 14 illegal immigrants died in rural South Texas after the pickup truck they were riding in veered off a highway and struck two trees.
Manny Fernandez contributed reporting.
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