At least five undocumented immigrants died after their SUV flipped during a high-speed car chase with border patrol agents on Sunday in Texas, about 50 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Twelve of the people in the car, which was reportedly packed with immigrants, were ejected from the vehicle, Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd told local news outlets. The car was fleeing agents who spotted the car caravaning with two other vehicles on a remote highway and suspected human trafficking, according to the sheriff.
“It’s called good police work,” Boyd said, when asked why the border patrol agents started the chase, according to CNN. The driver of the vehicle was known to authorities as a human smuggler, according to him.
The border patrol agents managed to stop two of the three vehicles traveling together along the rural stretch of highway. They arrested several undocumented immigrants in those two vehicles. But the third car fled when agents tried to pull the driver over.
The border patrol agents radioed ahead and a local sheriff’s deputy picked up the chase. The black SUV carrying the immigrants was traveling at well over 100 miles per hour when it swerved off the highway, flipped over, and ejected several of the people inside, according to Boyd. Four died at the scene, and one died at hospital nearby.
The authorities believe that 14 people, two of whom are believed to have been U.S. citizens, were in the car when it flipped.
Facebook user Isaiah Martinez posted a video to social media of the accident. Warning: The video contains graphic content.
“Damn, passing through Big Wells, there was a fucking police chase, fucking flipped over a Suburban,” he can be heard saying at the beginning of the video. He walks toward the scene of the accident, where he finds people performing CPR, the driver being taken into custody, and what appear to be dead bodies.
“They need help, but I don’t know if we’re, like, allowed to help them,” a woman standing by the side of the road says to the person holding the camera. “They need a lot of help.
The crash, which happened on Sunday around noon, occurs amid widespread protests over the Trump administration’s decision to criminally prosecute all border crossings as part of a new “zero-tolerance” policy, leading to the separation of thousands of children from their parents.
"Every day my deputies are getting into pursuits, every single day. It's very rare that a day goes by where we don't get into a chase," Boyd told local news on Sunday. "This is, I think, a perfect example of why our borders need to be secure.”
"I think we need a wall, in my opinion," he added, referring to President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border. "If it can be built, I think it needs to be built. But along with that, there needs to be cameras. There needs to be sensors."
Cover image: A soldier moves a traffic cone as cars wait to enter Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, on Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca, File)