Six illegal immigrants were killed and five more were critically injured when an SUV reported earlier for evading authorities crashed into a ditch Wednesday morning, officials said.
Robstown Police Chief Erasmo Flores said officers attempted to stop the SUV for speeding at around 10 p.m. Tuesday. He said when the car wouldn’t stop, officers engaged in a chase but soon lost sight of the vehicle in an area covered in brush.
Several hours later, at around 4 a.m., the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a woman who said an injured man had come to her door, and, about an hour after they started searching the area, deputies encountered two injured men walking along the road.
The pair reportedly informed the officers about the deadly crash.
Sheriff's Office Capt. Daniel Lorberau said several people had to be hospitalized after the SUV, traveling at around 50 mph, crashed into a drainage ditch. It was the same vehicle which had evaded authorities hours before, officials said.
Six undocumented immigrants died as a result of the crash and five more were said to be in critical condition, authorities said. Three others suffered less serious injuries.
Border agents on the scene said that the victims had illegally entered the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.
Sheriff J.C. Hooper said authorities have seen an increase in these kinds of multi-fatality traffic crashes along the U.S. 77 corridor through South Texas due to 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."
Five people died last June about 100 miles southwest of San Antonio when an SUV carrying 14 people crashed while being chased by Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies. In 2015, six of 14 people packed into an SUV were also killed in a similar police chase.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.