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25 illegal immigrants hurt in crash

driver sought

September 05, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Twenty-five illegal immigrants were injured today near here when the pickup they were stowed in crashed into a ditch as the driver tried to evade authorities.

The U.S. Border Patrol this morning was continuing to track the driver, who fled the accident scene, leaving the migrants strewn around the ditch near Griffin and Highline roads.

The accident occurred shortly after midnight.

County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy David Prince said a deputy patrolling east of Holtville spotted a pickup traveling at a high rate of speed with its lights off.

The deputy signaled for the pickup to stop and the driver fled on Highline Road, heading north in the southbound lanes with the truck's lights still out.

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Prince said the pickup ran two other vehicles off the road and drove through a stop sign.

Finally the paved part of Highline Road ended and the pickup continued on the dirt road, which comes to a quick end at a ditch.

Prince said the driver attempted to stop the truck, but the brakes locked and the pickup crashed into the ditch.

All those in the back of the pickup were thrown from the vehicle. Twenty-five people, possibly all who were in the pickup, had to be taken to either El Centro Regional Medical Center or Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley.

Medical crews from throughout the Imperial Valley were called to the scene.

Among those injured was a child who was in serious condition and was taken to Children's Hospital in San Diego, an adult also in serious condition was flown to a San Diego hospital, and another adult who was in critical condition was at El Centro Regional this morning.

"There were people all over the place last night," Prince said. "It's a miracle there were not more serious injuries."

Prince said the indications are that only one person fled from the scene and that person was thought to be the driver of the pickup.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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