OCOTILLO, Calif. — A van loaded with suspected illegal aliens swerved off a freeway off-ramp today and crashed while being chased by U.S. Border Patrol agents, killing three people and injuring 16, authorities said.
Eleven people were killed last year in a similar accident in the Imperial Valley during a chase.
Today's accident occurred shortly after 2 a.m. on a deserted stretch of Interstate 8 about four miles east of Ocotillo and a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, said Dale Musegates, chief patrol agent for the El Centro sector of the Border Patrol. Ocotillo is about 50 miles east of San Diego.
Earlier in the evening, two other vehicles filled with suspected illegal aliens were caught in the same area.
'Heavy Sensor Traffic'
"We had been getting some very heavy sensor traffic in that area since about midnight," Musegates said, referring to equipment used by the Border Patrol to electronically monitor traffic moving from the border.
Musegates said an agent had tried to stop a red and white van as it left the Meyer Wash area near Ocotillo.