Pursuit of migrants ends with fatal wreck: 6 dead, more injured

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Police pursued a vehicle for speeding that was found early Wednesday crashed in a field with six people dead and several others injured.

At least one other person believed to have been in the SUV when it crashed was still being sought Wednesday afternoon.

Robstown police, EMS, the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office, the Coast Guard and Texas DPS responded to the fatal crash and spent several hours at the scene. Border Patrol also responded because the group of about 14 are believed to be undocumented immigrants from other countries, including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, sheriff’s officials said.

The crash, which was discovered early Wednesday during heavy rainfall, was near the city limits of Robstown, just west of Corpus Christi. 

Robstown EMS Chief Roland Padilla said a vehicle crashed into a ditch in a sorghum field.

Several people who were trapped inside had to be rescued and were taken to area hospitals. 

Robstown police at a news conference Wednesday afternoon said the pursuit began before midnight Tuesday near railroad tracks when an officer spotted the vehicle speeding and tried to conduct a traffic stop.

Police pursued the vehicle until officers lost sight of it in a bushy area just outside city limits, Police Chief Erasmo Flores said.

But Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper said it was until about 4 a.m. Wednesday – hours later – that a resident called 911 to report an injured person knocking on their door. That person wasn’t found but another call came in about an hour later of a report of two young men seen walking along a road who looked injured.

Deputies found those two men, who spoke only Spanish, and after a couple hours of searching they found the crash site in a remote field, Hooper said.

Corpus Christi police are assisting with reconstructing the crash. 

Hooper said while the number of deaths isn’t common these types of incidents are common along Highway 77 in South Texas because of its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“It has a classic appearance of human trafficking,” he said. “We are a pipeline. We are on a corridor to Houston, Texas, and these first responders deal with it every day.”

There were six people dead, five others who were seriously injured, two who were found walking on the road and potentially another person still unaccounted for, Hooper added.

All of the occupants of the SUV were men in their late teens to early 20s.

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