At least three people were killed and eight more injured in an attempt to smuggle immigrants into California on Thursday.
The truck carrying 11 people refused a Border Patrol command to stop, KGTV reported.
The Border Patrol had been hunting the pickup truck after agents followed tracks in a remote area and later found a piece of debris belonging to a truck, the New York Post reported.
Police found that a fence had been cut near Campo, California.
The truck fled on Interstate 8 as the chase reached speeds of 100 mph, police said. Near Boulevard, California, about 60 miles east of San Diego, police deployed a spike strip to stop the vehicle.
After hitting the strip, the truck went out of control.
The vehicle “became airborne and subsequently rolled down the dirt embankment and back onto the main lanes of I-8 westbound,” California Highway Patrol officials said
CHP spokesman Officer Travis Garrow said police believe a man was driving with a woman passenger in the cab. Nine men rode in the bed of the truck, he said. The woman was one of the three people killed.
The driver, an American, survived and is in police custody. He has been charged with three counts of manslaughter, police said.
#Update: CHP says 3 people are now dead. 10 to 11 people were in vehicle. Truck was being chased by border patrol agents and a spike strip was used, before it lost control into an embankment. 2 people were in the cab area, the rest were riding in the truck bed @10News https://t.co/bv7q9FUin4
— Anthony Pura (@10NewsPura) November 30, 2018
Border Patrol spokeswoman Takae Michael said the pickup was traveling with a car, which was later found abandoned. Twelve people were arrested in connection with smuggling illegal immigrants, she said.
Josiah Heyman, the director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso, said the incident highlights the problems with vehicle pursuits.
He said that often, cars are overcrowded and those being smuggled do not wear seatbels.
“It amplifies the dangerousness of this,” Heyman said. “I think in all cases, vehicular pursuit is still a risky choice because the risk is not just to innocent bystanders, the risk is to the officer and the risk is to the people in the vehicle.”
The incident took place amid a time of rising desperation for migrants who have been living in squalor in Tijuana after marching north through Mexico in an attempt to enter the U.S.
On Friday, Tijuana officials stopped supplying food and water to the estimated 5,000 migrants at a sports complex, forcing many to move to another site farther from the border, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
“We can’t let these people stay here because this is a big health problem and we have to clear the area,” said Mario Osuna Jimenez, Tijuana’s social development director.
Migrants will not be forced to move, but no more services will be provided at the sports complex.
“There will be no more food here, we will no longer allow people to distribute donations here,” Jimenez said. “The migrants must understand that we are helping them by having another shelter that is better suited to meet their needs.”
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