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2 Die in Ambush of Smuggler's Car

January 23, 2001|Associated Press

SALTON CITY, Calif. — Gunmen opened fire on a smuggler and three illegal immigrants, causing their Chevrolet Blazer to plunge into a canal, where two of the passengers drowned, Riverside County sheriff's deputies said.

The ambush occurred Saturday on a desert road north of the Salton Sea in Riverside County, about 130 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Deputies said the smuggler was driving a mother, her 14-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old man north when they came to a white van blocking the dirt road.

The 18-year-old told police that he got out of the Blazer to check the van and heard a shot fired from bushes behind him.

The teenager ran back toward the Blazer as more shots were fired. The driver tried to speed away in reverse, but he lost control, and the Blazer pitched down a 30-foot embankment into the canal, officials said.

The attackers chased the boy, but he ran through chaparral until he came to a home and called 911.

When deputies arrived, they found the bodies of the mother and daughter.

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