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Truck Runs Over Agent Near Border Checkpoint

January 23, 1994| From Associated Press

TEMECULA, Calif. — A truck loaded with apparent illegal immigrants ran over a Border Patrol agent near an immigration checkpoint Thursday night, then flipped after a chase. Eighteen people aboard the truck were injured.

The truck severely crushed agent David Douglas' right leg. Douglas, 24, was in critical but stable condition Saturday after surgery at Palomar Medical Center.

The incident occurred when California Highway Patrol officers stopped the driver of a U-Haul truck at a weighing station that bypasses an immigration checkpoint on Interstate 15.

They called Douglas to investigate the truck, but the driver knocked him to the ground with the door, then ran over his legs as he sped off, said Border Patrol Agent Sherry Lane Feltner.

Border Patrol, CHP and Riverside County sheriff's officials gave chase at speeds reaching more than 80 m.p.h. until the truck plunged down an embankment and flipped. Officers ripped off the back doors and pulled out 33 screaming people.

"They were all packed together sitting, bleeding, moaning, crying. You could see the fear in their eyes," said Capt. Paul O'Conner of the California Department of Forestry-Riverside County Fire Department.

Eighteen people, including the driver, Juan Perez Torrez, were taken to area hospitals, officials said. All but one were released to the custody of the Border Patrol by Friday.

Jorge Carasco, 49, was at Riverside General Hospital listed in fair condition with a head injury.

Border Patrol agent Mark Mendoza was injured while pulling off the truck's doors.

Torres, 27, was booked into the Southwest County Jail in French Valley for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and evading arrest. The Border Patrol also planned to file federal charges of smuggling illegal immigrants.

The incident was the third involving a rental truck transporting illegal immigrants into California this month.

On Jan. 6, agents stopped a Ryder truck carrying 60 people, and on Jan. 4, a Ryder truck carrying about 25 people crashed into a fence, and all but five people scattered before agents arrived.

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