Van Carrying Illegal Immigrants Crashes; 10 Hurt

From Associated Press

A van stuffed with more than two dozen illegal immigrants overturned Sunday night, injuring 10 men, authorities said.

The van was not being pursued when it crashed, California Highway Patrol spokesman Tim Santillan said.

"We believe that due to the weight factor, the driver lost control at the curb. The vehicle skidded out of control, hit an embankment, overturned, and when it came to rest the occupants who were not injured fled the scene," said CHP Sgt. John Marinez.

Initially, CHP officers at the scene reported 42 illegal immigrants jammed into in the 1985 van. But Marinez said that number was too high and suggested there were about 25. But even that statistic was difficult to confirm Sunday night, Marinez said.

"All these counts of the number of people [vary] . . . because as soon as the van came to rest everyone started running. They really tried to get the maximum amount of people in there," he said.

Alex Escobar, 25, Pedro Alfonso, 20, and Jose Cruz, 30, were taken to Palomar Hospital with very minor injuries, according to Marinez. A Palomar nursing supervisor refused to comment on their condition until they had been fully examined.

A witness reported the crash at 6:50 p.m., saying that a blue van had lost control and run off Interstate 78, about five miles east of Julian, authorities said.

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