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10 Dead, 20 Injured As Van Carrying Migrants Overturns In Encino, Texas

Texas Highway Crash
Texas Department of Public Safety
Debris is strewn across a road near the border city of Del Rio, Texas after a collision Monday, March 15, 2021. Eight people in a pickup truck loaded with immigrants were killed when the vehicle collided with an SUV following a police chase, authorities said. (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP)

Texas state troopers investigated a crash on Wednesday involving an overcrowded van carrying 29 people believed to be migrants.

Ten people were declared dead on site, and the 20 survivors were seriously injured.

According the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Ford passenger van was speeding when the driver tried to maneuver a curve. The vehicle was only designed to hold 15 people, and the extra weight caused it to veer off and crash into a metal utility pole and stop sign.

The driver was among the deceased. The 20 survivors were seriously injured, with some in critical condition. They were transported to several local hospitals for medical care. DPS said identities of the deceased will be released once they are properly identified and next of kin is notified.

The crash happened on U.S. Highway 281 in Encino, about 80 miles from the border and just south of the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint.

Brooks County Sheriff Urbino Martinez said the van was not being pursued by law enforcement.

Debris flies as a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter takes off to patrol along the Rio Grande near Mission
File Photo - Debris flies as a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter takes off to patrol along the Rio Grande near Mission, Texas. REUTERS/Eric Gay/Pool (CRIME LAW MILITARY POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION)

Gov. Greg Abbott has sent a heavy law enforcement presence to the border — including state troopers and the Texas National Guard — to arrest migrants on state charges of trespassing and vandalism. A federal judge has blocked Abbott's attempt to direct state troopers to stop any vehicle suspected of carrying migrants.

There have been several major fatal crashes involving migrants this year as more people fleeing violence in Central America make the dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border. There were more than 200,000 attempted crossings in July.

Immigrant rights activists say the U.S. has a duty to treat asylum seekers humanely while Abbott has criticized the Biden administration for not being tough enough on migrant crossings.

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As TPR's news director, Katz leads the organization’s news and journalism efforts, overseeing the newsroom’s day-to-day management and the development of a strategic vision for the news division. He also serves on the organization’s executive leadership team.
Carolina Cuellar reports for Texas Public Radio from the city of McAllen where she covers business and border issues. Her position is made possible by Report For America — a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.