At least five people are dead and more than a dozen injured after a high speed chase by U.S. Border Patrol agents and local sheriff deputies in south Texas ended in a fatal car crash on Sunday.
Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd told the Associated Press 14 people had been crammed into the car and that the driver lost control as it was fleeing Border Patrol agents topping 100 mph near Big Wells, Texas.
“From what we can tell the vehicle ran off the road and caught gravel and then tried to recorrect,” Boyd said, adding that “caused the vehicle to turn over several times.”
A dozen of the passengers were thrown out of the Chevrolet Suburban. Four died at the scene and a fifth died after being transported to a hospital in San Antonio. Boyd added that it’s possible a sixth passenger may have also died in the hospital.
The wrecked vehicle was one of three that the Border Patrol suspected was involved in a “smuggling event,” according to the AP.
Agents managed to stop the other two vehicles and arrest several passengers who Boyd claimed were in the country illegally.
Officials said the driver of the SUV is a U.S. citizen. He was unharmed in the crash and was able to walk away from the vehicle, according to Boyd. He was arrested by Homeland Security.
Boyd blamed the porous border for the deadly tragedies that plague counties neighboring Mexico. “This is, I think, a perfect example of why our borders need to be secure,” he told ABC News shortly after the incident.
“We need a wall in my opinion,” Boyd said, referring to the border wall President Trump has promised to erect along the U.S.-Mexico border, adding that it would serve to protect American lives as well as desperate migrants. “My office is receiving 911 calls from illegals in the brush, they’re calling out for help. They’re stranded and left behind by the foot guide and they’re left for dead,” he said.
The deadly car crash came hours before a group of Democratic legislators arrived at the largest immigrant children’s holding facility in Brownsville, Texas and shortly after a group of New York and New Jersey Democrats visited a detention center in Elizabeth, N.J.
In recent months the Trump administration has come under attack for implementing a “zero tolerance” immigration policy that includes arresting and separating undocumented parents from their children as they are caught crossing the border.