Packed SUV Illegally Crossed Border Just Before Crash That Killed 13


Two SUVs that entered the United States from Mexico through a 10-foot gap in the border barrier were involved in two separate crashes in California, killing at least 13 people.

A Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban were caught on surveillance video driving through the gap early Tuesday, Border Patrol’s El Centro sector chief Gregory Bovino told The Associated Press.

The Ford Expedition carried 25 people crammed inside and was involved in a deadly crash with a big rig in Holtville, California, soon after it crossed the border.

Ten of the 13 people killed in the crash have been identified as Mexican citizens.

The driver of the SUV was among those who died and the big rig driver was injured, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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“At this point, it is unknown whether or not the SUV stopped at the stop sign,” California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said.

“For reasons still under investigation, the Ford Expedition entered the intersection in front of the big rig.”

The Chevrolet Suburban carried 19 people and later caught fire on a nearby interstate after entering the country.

The passengers escaped the burning vehicle and were taken into custody.

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Border Patrol agents were not in pursuit of either vehicle at the time.

Agents reported a 10-foot breach in the International Boundary Fence near the Gordon’s Well exit off of Interstate 8, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release.

“Initial investigation into the origins of the vehicles indicate a potential nexus to the aforementioned breach in the border wall,” Bovino said.

“Human smugglers have proven time and again they have little regard for human life. Those who may be contemplating crossing the border illegally should pause to think of the dangers that all too often end in tragedy; tragedies our Border Patrol Agents and first responders are unfortunately very familiar with.”

It is unknown how long the opening in the fence has existed or if more people crossed into the country through the opening, Fox News reported. It is also unclear if the damage was repaired after agents discovered it Tuesday morning.

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The L.A. Times reported U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched “a human smuggling investigation” into the two incidents on Tuesday.

The area is a hot spot for illegal crossings where migrants often climb over the barrier and wait for drivers to pick them up, according to the AP.

A cemetery with rows of unmarked bricks that is a burial ground for migrants who died crossing the border is located about a mile from the crash site.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith