Three people were killed and eight were injured when a pickup truck fleeing from Border Patrol agents hit a spike strip, veered onto an embankment and rolled over Thursday afternoon on Interstate 8 near the Mexican border in southeastern San Diego County, authorities said.
Border Patrol agents began pursuing the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, which had two people in the cab and nine in the bed, about 4:25 p.m. The truck crashed while fleeing at an “extremely high rate of speed” westbound on the interstate near the community of Boulevard, California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Travis Garrow said.
“It was spike-stripped by the Border Patrol, continued westbound, went up a dirt and rock embankment and rolled, ejecting either nine or 10 people out of the vehicle,” Garrow said.
A male driver and a female passenger were believed to be the only occupants seated in the cab of the truck, Garrow said. The woman was among those killed. Nine men were in the bed, which had no camper shell or other type of covering.
Three of the eight injured sustained major injuries and the rest were minor, Cal Fire San Diego said. The driver survived and is in Border Patrol custody.
No further information about the truck’s occupants was available.
According to a CHP incident log, witnesses reported the pickup was weaving in and out of traffic and passing other vehicles using the center median and right shoulder at speeds of more than 100 mph.
Both westbound lanes of the interstate were shut down for several hours in the area, about 60 miles east of San Diego, as authorities investigated.
Border Patrol policy states that agents may get involved in pursuits only when the benefit outweighs any immediate danger created by speeding or other emergency driving techniques. Federal officials have said pursuits involving agents are rare, but Thursday’s crash was the second in the past 16 months that resulted in three deaths.
The other triple-fatality chase happened in August 2017 after Border Patrol agents spotted a Black GMC Envoy that, according to an alert, was associated with an armed and dangerous man suspected of murder and human smuggling.
When the agents tried to pull the vehicle over, the driver sped off. The vehicle was traveling at high speed, authorities said, when it went off Interstate 15 and into a Rancho Bernardo ravine, killing three of the four people inside.
Riggins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.