Crash that killed 10 migrants happened along highway notorious for human smuggling, officials say

Local News

ENCINO, Texas (Border Report) — A lone black shoe remained Thursday at the base of a utility pole where a van carrying 30 migrants struck and rolled over, killing 10 and injuring 20 on Wednesday in remote Brooks County in South Texas.

A black glove lay in the middle of the road where the white Ford van packed with 30 adult migrants took a curve in excess of 85 mph on Wednesday afternoon triggering the violent crash.

It is one of the worst accidents that the ranching community of Brooks County has experienced, but Brooks County Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez told Border Report that he’s not surprised given the high number of migrants being trafficked through these parts as they try to get north of a Border Patrol checkpoint.

The light pole where a van struck on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, is dented and scratched. And debris liters the scene where a total of 10 migrants died and 20 migrants were injured in the crash off Highway 281 in remote Brooks County. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report photos)

The crash happened about 9 miles south of the 12-lane checkpoint, which most locals in the Rio Grande Valley refer to as “Falfurrias,” for the nearest town to this remote outpost about 66 miles north of the Mexican border. It is the largest Border Patrol checkpoint on the Southwest border and is located on busy U.S. Highway 281, which is the man south-to-north thoroughfare that leads from deep South Texas to cities like Austin, Dallas and Houston.

What occurred exactly at 4 p.m. CDT Wednesday is uncertain as several victims remain in critical conditions in various hospitals within a 200-mile radius of South Texas.

But according to Texas Department of Public Safety officials, the driver went from the outside lane and suddenly cut right and exited the highway “veered off the roadway, striking a metal utility pole and a stop sign.”

He turned off on an uneven curve from the two-lane highway near the El Chiquito Ranch. He was headed east of the highway to an area where migrants are often dropped off and walk for upwards of 20 miles through thick brush, prickly pear cactus and dangerous terrain to Farm to Market Road 285, the only other east-to-west highway north of the checkpoint

The driver and nine passengers were declared dead at the scene, DPS said.

DPS officials told Border Report that they were not yet releasing the name of the victims or injured and it could be several weeks before that information gets out “as they need to do a thorough investigation.”

Most migrants coming through South Texas come from what is called the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They are thousands of miles from their homelands and reaching family can take time and be a chore.

Immediately after the crash, some families began reaching out to Border Report saying they are concerned they haven’t heard from loved ones and worried they are among the injured or even dead.

In Corpus Christi, four victims remained Thursday evening at Christus Spohn Hospital. Two of the victims had been airlifted; two others were brought via ambulance and had been “awake and responsible when transported,” hospital spokeswoman Nikela Pradier said.

Others were scattered in various medical centers in the Rio Grande Valley.

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