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13 injured in rollover crash during Border Patrol pursuit in San Diego County

A map of San Diego County shows location of a rollover crash on Interstate 8

Three people were seriously injured when a pickup with 13 people in the cab and bed overturned while being pursued by Border Patrol agents Tuesday evening in eastern San Diego County, authorities said.

The other 10 occupants of the Chevrolet Silverado suffered less serious injuries, said Capt. Frank LoCoco of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in San Diego. Paramedics airlifted one person to a hospital and took the other 12 to hospitals via ambulance.

A spokesperson for the Border Patrol in San Diego said agents “were involved in a failure-to-yield incident” but provided few other details.

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Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which is responsible for investigating possible employee misconduct within the agency, responded to the scene, spokesperson Gerrelaine Alcordo said.

California Highway Patrol officers also responded along with Cal Fire crews and the Border Patrol agents, LoCoco and Alcordo said.

The crash occurred shortly after 6 p.m. on westbound Interstate 8 south of Pine Valley, between Buckman Springs Road and Sunrise Highway, authorities said. The area is near a Border Patrol checkpoint.

“Multiple people were ejected from the back and the cab,” LoCoco said. “We found patients inside the cab as well.”

A CHP spokesperson on Wednesday said investigators believe 12 people were riding unrestrained in the bed of the truck with the driver in the cab. Only the driver was wearing a seat belt.

“The driver appears to have attempted to exit at Buckman Springs Road then turned abruptly to the left, back into the main travel lanes. The driver lost control of the Chevrolet and the Chevrolet traveled across the main travel lanes of Interstate 8, onto the dirt median where [it] rolled over,” CHP Officer Travis Garrow said in a statement.

LoCoco said one medical helicopter, four ambulances and five fire engines responded to the scene, which Cal Fire categorized as a “mass casualty” event.

In October, the Border Patrol sent out a news release reporting growing concerns over “an increase in dangerous failure-to-yield incidents … spanning from San Diego beach communities to east county.” Supervisory Agent Tekae Michael said in the release that from Oct. 1 to Oct. 27, agents in the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector had encountered 23 failure-to-yield incidents involving suspected human smuggling.

Such incidents have had deadly consequences in the past. In August 2017, three people died and one was hurt when a GMC Envoy linked to a murder suspect sped away from Border Patrol agents and crashed off Interstate 15 in Rancho Bernardo. In November 2018, three people were killed and eight were injured when a pickup fleeing Border Patrol agents hit a spike strip, veered onto an embankment and rolled on the I-8 near Boulevard. In February 2019, two men were killed and a woman was critically injured when their vehicle crashed into a semi-truck and careened down an embankment while fleeing a Border Patrol agent on surface streets in Otay Mesa.

In March, 14 people were killed in a smuggling incident in Imperial County that did not involve a Border Patrol pursuit. In that collision, authorities said, the driver of an SUV crammed with 25 people pulled into the path of a big rig at an intersection in Holtville.


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