FALFURRIAS, Texas — A stolen pickup that authorities suspect was smuggling humans smashed into a tractor-trailer Thursday on a remote two-lane highway north of the Mexican border, killing six people and injuring at least six others.
The pickup carrying 13 people pulled onto a highway from a narrow country road shortly before dawn and hit the 18-wheeler, which was hauling cars. Five men and a woman died in the collision, authorities said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was investigating the crash, and agents suspected it involved human smuggling, spokeswoman Luisa Deason said.
A stop sign was flattened at the crash site, but it was unclear whether the sign was knocked down during or after the wreck.
Authorities did not know where the dead were from, but most of the injured were from Mexico, said Lisa Block, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.
All of the injured people were hospitalized Thursday evening. The pickup driver was apparently uninjured.
The pickup is believed to have been stolen, Block said.
Immigration agents were interviewing several people who fled the scene. The agency will seek criminal charges if investigators determine "the ones responsible for this terrible tragedy," Deason said.
Several people also fled from a sport utility vehicle that swerved to avoid the wreck, slid off the road and became lodged in a small wire fence surrounding ranchland, officials said.
The wreck happened about 10 miles north of the Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias. Border Patrol officials say illegal immigrants often try to avoid border checkpoints by cutting through desolate ranchland.