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Truck Filled With People Crashes, Killing Six

Suspected immigrant smuggling ends in disaster after pursuit in southeastern Arizona.

October 17, 2004|From Associated Press

PHOENIX — A stolen truck filled with suspected illegal immigrants speeding away from deputies rolled over at a busy intersection near an Army post Saturday, causing an 11-car crash that killed six people and seriously injured 15, sheriff's officials said.

Passengers were thrown out of the truck bed as the truck hit a center median and began to spiral, hitting vehicles waiting at a turn lane, said Deputy Chief Randy Redmond of the Sierra Vista Fire Department. Investigators think the truck was traveling at about 90 mph when it went out of control near Ft. Huachuca in southeastern Arizona, he said.

At least 20 people were in the truck, Redmond said.

"To have people pinned, the huge language barrier -- it was really a horrible, horrible scene," he said.

The impact tore the roofs from some cars and trapped some motorists in their vehicles. Five people died at the scene. Two people were flown from the scene and 20 were transported by ambulance to hospitals, where one victim later died, according to the Fire Department.

Cochise County deputies believe the truck was carrying illegal immigrants. They first saw the vehicle driving out of a brushy area along a highway and trailed it for a short time, sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas said. Deputies called for backup and stopped chasing the vehicle after the suspect sped and drove away recklessly, Capas said.

Authorities then spotted the truck heading north on State Route 90. Sierra Vista police officers used tire deflation devices to slow the vehicle, said Frank Valenzuela, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

The driver lost control at a busy intersection near the east entrance to Ft. Huachuca, an Army post next to Sierra Vista. Traffic in the area was diverted to Tombstone while authorities investigated.

The vehicle had been reported stolen in Phoenix, Capas said.

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