8 dead in crash after police chased a suspected human smuggler in Texas

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8 dead in crash after police chased a suspected human smuggler in Texas

Eight people died Wednesday when the driver of a car suspected of carrying smuggled migrants fled police and smashed into an oncoming vehicle on a South Texas highway.

The crash happened around 6:30 a.m. when the driver of 2009 Honda Civic hauling migrants and trying to outrun deputies from the Zavala County Sheriff’s Office tried to pass semi truck on a two-lane road, the state Department of Public Safety said. The Civic collided with a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox.

The driver and five passengers in the Civic died, DPS said.

It is the latest deadly vehicle crash involving migrants, marking the highest death toll since 13 people died in a collision in remote Holtville, California, in March 2021.

A slew of deaths led the Border Patrol to restrict vehicle chases earlier this year.

The policy announced in January stops short of prohibiting pursuits but, according to CBP, “provides a clear framework for weighing the risks of conducting pursuits, such as the dangers they present to the public, against the law enforcement benefit or need.”

Local law enforcement agencies have been involved in fatal crashes as well in recent years. In June 2022, four migrants were killed in a smuggling attempt following a police chase in the South Texas city of Encinal.

Texas DPS officers have confirmed that multiple deceased passengers are from Honduras, Texas DPS spokesman Christopher Olivarez said in a statement. Two people in the Equinox also died, he said. They were from Georgia.

Identities of those killed will be released to their families first, Olivarez said.