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4 dead, 7 hurt after SUV fleeing Border Patrol crashes in Arizona


May 2, 2012: Investigators look over a vehicle that crashed and rolled following a pursuit by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Casa Grande, Ariz. (AP/Casa Grande Dispatch, Steven King)

An SUV packed with suspected illegal immigrants crashed in a farm town south of Phoenix while fleeing from U.S. Border Patrol agents early Wednesday, leaving four people dead and seven injured.

The Dodge Durango carrying 11 people hit a wall and rolled into the yard of a home in Casa Grande at about 1 a.m., police spokesman officer Thomas Anderson said. Officers found three people dead at the scene, and a fourth died after being airlifted to a hospital in Phoenix, 50 miles to the north.

Five of the injured were hurt badly enough to also be flown to Phoenix hospitals, while two with lesser injuries were taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

Border Patrol and U.S. Homeland Security agents spotted the SUV driving with a second vehicle south of town in an area where smuggling is common, Anderson said. When officers tried to stop the two vehicles, one slowed and the other sped north toward Casa Grande with agents following.

A police officer saw the SUV careening into town, try to make a turn and lose control. It crashed through a wall and hit several trees, but stopped just short of a house.

The crash was extremely violent, leaving a trail of auto parts and bodies, Anderson said.

Federal agents detained the woman driving the second vehicle.

Multiple-fatality crashes involving vehicles packed with illegal immigrants are not uncommon in Arizona, especially when drivers try to flee from law enforcement. It's also common for smuggling vehicles to travel in pairs, with one acting as a decoy so the vehicle with drugs or illegal immigrants can slip away.

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