At least 10 people are dead and 20 were injured when an overloaded delivery truck crashed on a freeway in a tiny town about 100 miles south of Corpus Christi, Texas on Wednesday, authorities said.
The crash occurred shortly after 4 p.m. at the intersection of US 281 and Business 281 in Encino, Texas, a city of about 140 people.
Brooks County Sheriff Urbino Martinez said the van, which was designed to carry 15 passengers, was top heavy and overturned when the driver lost control in a corner. The van held 29 suspected undocumented migrants, he said.
According to reports, a witness saw a Ford van spinning down that highway when the driver tried to turn and the van hit a metal power pole, said Staff Lt. Christopher Olivarez Texas Highway Patrol in a statement.
The driver and nine passengers died at the scene of the accident, the message says. 20 people were transported to surrounding hospitals. The identity of the deceased will be kept secret until relatives can be notified, Olivarez said.
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Sgt. Nathan Brandley of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the death toll was originally announced at 11 but was later revised. He also said the 20 who survived the first crash all had serious to life-threatening injuries.
Encino is a parish of about 140 people about 2 miles south of the Falfurrias border checkpoint. Olivarez said DPS soldiers were investigating the crash.
In early March this year, at least 13 people, including the driver, died after an SUV loaded with at least 25 undocumented migrants collided with a trailer truck near the US-Mexico border in California. The Van Wednesday didn’t appear to be in a chase, Martinez told The Monitor.
“Cramming dozens of people into eight-person vehicles and driving recklessly to avoid detection shows total disregard for human life,” US Attorney General Randy Grossman said in a March statement. “We will find and prosecute smugglers who use and cause these methods.” tragic and preventable deaths. ”
Later in March, eight migrants were killed in another overcrowded pickup truck when the vehicle collided with another truck during a police chase near the Texas border town of Del Rio, authorities said.
The Justice Department sued Texas State and Governor Greg Abbott last Friday over an executive order ordering state soldiers to overtake vehicles suspected of bringing unauthorized migrants into federal custody. The order was blocked by a federal judge on Wednesday.
An increase in migrants crossing the border illegally has led to an increase in the number of accidents in which vehicles are trapped 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 trips, combined with excessive speed and reckless driving by these youngsters, has resulted in terrible accidents.
Contribution: The Associated Press