SUV Flips in Border Chase, Killing 9, Injuring 13

Times Staff Writer

A driver trying to elude U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Arizona desert on Monday flipped an SUV loaded with suspected illegal immigrants, killing nine and injuring 13, authorities said.

The driver was apparently trying to skirt a Border Patrol checkpoint on U.S. Highway 95 near the California-Arizona border by taking a remote road.

Spotted by agents who followed the vehicle, the driver made a U-turn and tried to speed back onto the highway, authorities said.

“The driver lost control and rolled it,” said Martha Silva, a Border Patrol spokeswoman.


Leon Wilmot, a spokesman for the Yuma County Sheriff’s office, said the driver appeared to have been trying to avoid a spike strip thrown in front of the vehicle.

Five people were pronounced dead at the scene. Four died at Yuma Regional Medical Center. Thirteen more were injured, five critically.

Identities of the deceased were being held until their relatives could be notified, Wilmot said.

Such reckless tactics by drivers have become increasingly common along the border, as smuggling rings take desperate measures to avoid increased enforcement.

Near San Diego last year, a suspected smuggler driving a minivan filled with undocumented immigrants caused a head-on collision that killed five people, including a pregnant woman and two children.