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Guatemalan, Mexican nationals among those in fatal Arizona crash

April 22, 2013|By Cindy Carcamo

TUCSON -- It may take several days before officials determine the identities of the five males who died in a crash after the vehicle they were in failed to yield to U.S. Border Patrol agents, officials said Monday.

Several other passengers, including those who told authorities they were Guatemalan and Mexican nationals, were injured, said Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves.

Very few had identification on them, which makes it difficult for authorities to contact family, he said. Mexican Consulate officials in Tucson said they were working to identify the dead and injured.

About 11 p.m. Saturday, Border Patrol agents attempted to stop a Chevrolet Tahoe traveling west on Interstate 10 near Vail, Ariz.

Federal authorities said the agency had tried to stop the vehicle for an immigration check, but the driver instead continued west on the interstate to the exit for Highway 83. The vehicle went out of control on the exit ramp and flipped, officials said.

“Preliminary reports indicate that the driver of the Tahoe lost control on the exit ramp and rolled the vehicle, resulting in multiple fatalities and injuries,” officials said in a statement Sunday.

Border Patrol officials were about a mile or two behind, following the Tahoe. It doesn’t appear to have been a high-speed pursuit, Graves said.

There are conflicting reports on how many people were in the mid-size SUV. Graves said 20 people, Pima County Rural/Metro Fire Chief Willie Treatch said the vehicle was carrying 22 passengers, and officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said 18 people were aboard.

Five people died at the scene and at least 15, including the driver, were rushed to the hospital, some by helicopter, authorities said.

The injuries range from minor to life-threatening, Graves said.

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cindy.carcamo@latimes.com

Twitter: @thecindycarcamo

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