UPDATED: Human Smuggling Chase on Texas Border Kills 1 Woman, Injures 12

PALMVIEW, Texas — One woman has died and at least 12 others were injured during a high speed chase that ended in a rollover as what appears to be human smugglers tried to evade authorities near the Texas/Mexico border. The vehicle crashed into another vehicle and rolled over, ejecting passengers onto the roadway.

UPDATE FROM DPS: Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Trooper Maria Montalvo released an official statement to Breitbart Texas. The blue Dodge Ram described below was occupied by eleven men and two women. Six men and one woman were transported to Rio Grande Regional Hospital. One of the men is in critical condition. Additonally five males were transported to McAllen Medial Center. One of those men is also in critical condition. The others do not have life threatening injuries. The driver of the GMC truck that was struck by the Ram after it lost control was also transported to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. That driver was later released. The investigation continues at this time.

ORIGINAL STORY CONTINUES:

The accident occurred on South Bentsen Palm Road in Palmview, Texas, according to trusted sources in the Border Patrol. This road leads from the Rio Grande River to one of the major highways in the area, U.S. 83.

The vehicle allegedly carrying the illegal aliens apparently got spooked when they spotted a Border Patrol vehicle, sources claimed. The vehicle then fled, crashing into another vehicle. The suspects vehicle overturned, ejecting one of the illegal aliens who died at the scene. Six others were transported to a hospital for treatment.

Palmview Police Chief Chris Barrera told Breitbart Texas that his officers were called shortly before 3 p.m. to a major accident with several individuals lying on the side of the road.

Police officers responded to the area just south of the intersection of  Bentsen Palm Road and US. Expressway 83 where a vehicle had rolled over.

“The officers tended to the individuals, called EMS and began the accident investigation,” Barrera said. Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) trooersended up taking over the case since the crash ended up being outside of the city limits of Palmview.

In an interview with Breitbart Texas, DPS Trooper Maria Montalvo said a Blue Dodge Ram was traveling northbound on South Bentsen Palm Road when it lost control and struck a Blue GMC Pickup truck that was headed southbound. She said the Ram rolled over and ejected several passengers.

One female is confirmed dead at the scene. She was ejected from the Ram. It is not known if she was a driver or a passenger in the Ram, Trooper Montalvo said.

When asked if this looked like a human smuggling case, Montalvo said she could not confirm that at this time, but the vehicle was loaded with numerous people. She said the identities of people in the Ram are not known at this time. She said no tickets have been written and no charges have yet been filed. The accident is still under investigation.

While the legal status of the individuals in the crash has not been fully verified, sources told Breitbart Texas they believe the crash was related to a human smuggling attempt. Authorities continue to search the area for other victims who may have fled the area.

Palmview is an area that has become a hotspot for high speed pursuits as human smugglers and drug traffickers use U.S. 83 in an effort to get their drugs from areas at the river to stash houses in the Rio Grande Valley.

In 2012, Junior Benjamin Rodriguez, who was only 15 at the time, drove a minivan with at least 16 illegal immigrants when border patrol agents tried to pull him over in the border city of Palmview, Breitbart Texas reported.  Rodriguez sped off but lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a shopping plaza. The passengers ended up flying out of the vehicle with nine of them dying.

Rodriguez was tried as an adult and is currently serving a 20 year prison sentence for nine counts of manslaughter.

No U.S. Border Patrol agents were injured in the incident. The Texas Department of Public Safety has taken over the investigation into the crash.

In September, Breitbart Texas reported on another pursuit that ended in a rollover crash. That crash, in Edna, Texas, southwest of Houston, resulted in six deaths and several injuries.

This article has been updated with additional information.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter, @BobPriceBBTX.


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