An overloaded van carrying 29 migrants crashed on an isolated South Texas highway on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people, including the driver, and injuring 20 others, authorities said.
The crash happened shortly after 4 p.m. on US 281 in Encino, Texas, about 50 miles north of McAllen, Texas. Sgt. Nathan Brandley, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the van, designed to hold 15 passengers, accelerated as the driver attempted to exit the freeway on Trade Route 281. He lost control of the heavy van , which struck a metal utility pole and a stop sign.
The identities of the 30 people in the van were withheld until relatives could be informed, Brandley said. No information about the van, including its place of registration or owner, was immediately disclosed.
A witness allegedly saw a Ford pickup truck speeding along this freeway when the driver tried to turn, and the pickup truck crashed into a metal pole, the Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Nathan Brandley told KTRK.
Brandley said the death toll was originally announced at 11 but was later revised. He also said the 20 who survived the initial crash all have serious to critical injuries.
Encino is a community of about 140 people about 3 km south of the Falfurrias border patrol checkpoint. Texas DPS said his soldiers were investigating.
Earlier this year in March, at least 13 people, including the driver, died after an SUV filled with at least 25 undocumented migrants collided with a semi-truck near the US-Mexico border in California. . Wednesday’s van did not appear to be involved in a lawsuit, Martinez told The Monitor.
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“Packing dozens of people into eight-passenger vehicles and driving recklessly to avoid detection shows complete disregard for human life,” Acting US Attorney Randy Grossman said in a March statement. “We will find and prosecute the smugglers who use these methods and cause such tragic and preventable deaths.
Later in March, eight migrants in another overcrowded van were killed when the vehicle crashed into another truck during a police chase near the border town of Del Rio, Texas, authorities said.
The Department of Justice last Friday sued the state of Texas and Governor Greg Abbott over an executive order ordering state soldiers to stop vehicles suspected of transporting unauthorized migrants into federal custody. The order was blocked Wednesday by a federal judge.
An increase in the number of migrants crossing the border illegally has led to an increase in the number of accidents involving vehicles crowded with migrants paying large sums to be smuggled into the country. The Dallas Morning News reported that the recruitment of young drivers for the smuggling routes, combined with the excessive speeding and reckless driving of these young people, has led to horrific accidents.
Contribution: The Associated Press