A brief police chase turned deadly on Wednesday when a pickup truck lost control, flipped, and ejected all 12 of its occupants.
Authorities suspect human smuggling in the November 2 incident on a dirt road northwest of the border town of La Joya.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other 11, including the driver, were injured, some of them critically. Five of the occupants were sent to DHR Health, and the other six were sent to McAllen Medical Hospital.
All of the occupants of the vehicle were male and appeared to be unlawful migrants. Their countries of origin have not yet been revealed.
At the time of the crash, police attempted to pull over the driver of the Ford F-150 after he reportedly ran a red light and was speeding. Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Sergeant Maria Montalvo said the driver traveled westbound on Farm-to-Market 107.
Instead of stopping, however, the chase continued until the driver of the Ford lost control of the vehicle on Jara Chinas Road in La Joya, according to Montalvo.
Lieutenant Chris Olivarez, spokesman for the DPS, attributes the single-vehicle crash to “excessive speed and recklessness.”
La Joya is located in Hidalgo County, just five miles north of the Texas border. Unfortunately, the small border town has previously seen deadly crashes involving the apparent smuggling of unlawful migrants.
Just last year, a black Ford F-150 trying to evade arrest at the same intersection rolled over and killed two of its 12 occupants.
The number of migrant deaths at the U.S. southern border in fiscal year 2022 totals 856, which is the highest and deadliest ever on record. However, an investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that the 856 migrant deaths may be underestimated.
“Border Patrol has not collected and recorded, or reported to Congress, complete data on migrant deaths, or disclosed associated data limitations,” the GAO report reads.
Since October 1, over 25 unlawful migrant deaths have been reported thus far.
The DPS is still actively investigating the single-vehicle crash. Olivarez stated that the driver will likely face charges following the investigation.