US

6 Illegal Immigrants Dead, 5 Critically Injured After SUV Crashes Near Border

By Zachary Stieber

Six illegal immigrants were killed and 5 critically injured after a vehicle they were using to try to evade the police crashed into a ditch in Texas on June 5.

Law enforcement officers, including Border Patrol agents, swarmed the scene in Robstown after the crash. The group of around 14 people in the vehicle were believed to be illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, Nueces County Sheriff’s Office deputies told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

“We know that six people are dead. We know that five are critically seriously injured. We know that two are in custody,” Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper said at a press conference later Wednesday.

The chase was triggered after a Robstown police officer saw a vehicle speeding and tried to pull it over. The driver instead fled from the officer. Authorities suspended the chase after they lost sight of the car.

Around 4 a.m., a resident contacted the police and said someone was knocking at their door and that the person appeared to be injured. Deputies responded but couldn’t locate the person.

About an hour later, another call came about two people who appeared to be juvenile males. Deputies found them. The males, who spoke only Spanish, told law enforcement about the crash. The site was located at about 7 a.m.

Police believe one person may still be on the loose.

Hooper said the type of incident is common due to the proximity to the border.

“It has a classic appearance of human trafficking, in the sense that they are from different countries,” and are not related, he said. “So it has has a classic appearance of human trafficking, which is a problem, because of what is going on at the border 150 miles from here on the Mexican border, and it directly impacts what happens here.”

“We are a pipeline. We are on a corridor to Houston, Texas, and these first responders deal with it every day.”

Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez said that officials have seen a rising number of illegal immigrants in south Texas, many of whom illegally trespass on private land to try to avoid being captured, reported KIII-TV. At least two or three incidents where illegal immigrants quickly bail out of vehicles happen per week.

“It’s sad in terms of what occurs, the end result, but as law enforcement personnel you still have to do your part,” Martinez said. “It’s just a part of it. A part of this immigration issue that hasn’t been resolved.”

All of the people in the crash were believed to be in their late teens or early 20s.

Officials were working on identifying them but noted that accurate identification only happens about half the time.

“If they do have something in their pocket, very frequently it’s fraudulent, it’s not accurate identification,” Sheriff Hooper said. “If there’s not identification in their pocket, it’s up to their word of mouth, because most of the time there is no fingerprints or photographs on file.”

“This is not an uncommon event—it’s uncommon that six people are dead, and more of them are suffering at this moment in hospitals, that’s a little bit uncommon—but the bailouts and the routine trafficking … is going on as we speak,” he added. “We are suffering with those families because of what is going on 150 miles from here.”