Eight people in a Dodge pickup truck loaded with immigrants were killed when the vehicle collided with another pickup truck following a police chase near the Texas border city of Del Rio, authorities said.
The crash happened weeks after one of the deadliest highway crashes involving migrants entering the U.S. without permission and amid rising crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Texas Department of Public Safety says troopers were chasing a red Dodge pickup truck on U.S. Highway 277 on Monday afternoon when the truck collided head-on with a white Ford F-150 nearly 30 miles north of Del Rio.
The driver and a child passenger of the Ford F-150 were hospitalized, as was one of the passengers from the Dodge pickup, according to the agency’s statement. All eight of the people killed and the surviving passenger of the Dodge pickup were immigrants in the U.S. without authorization, according to DPS.
DPS did not say why troopers were pursuing the truck. A spokesperson said the agency would release more details on the cause of the pursuit and the names of the victims later Tuesday.
The people killed were all Mexican nationals between the ages of 18 and 20, according to Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez. He said seven were men and one was a woman.
Martinez said he did not know what led to the pursuit and referred other questions to DPS.
The driver of the Dodge pickup truck ran away following the crash, but was later arrested, according to the state agency.
Earlier this month, 13 people were killed in a crash shortly after a Ford Expedition entered California through a section of border fence with Mexico that was cut away, apparently by smugglers, according to immigration officials. The Expedition crammed with 25 people struck a tractor-trailer.
In a statement Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas conceded that a recent increase in children traveling alone across the Mexican border was a challenge. He noted that the number of Border Patrol encounters at the border has been steadily increasing since last April. But, he added, “This is not new,” citing previous surges in border crossings in 2019 and 2014.
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