Van full of undocumented immigrants crashes, 9 hurt

January 10, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

GORDONS WELL — While apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrol are down 64 percent this fiscal year, officials know the busy season is fast approaching.

Tuesday night nine people — all undocumented immigrants — were injured when the sport-utility vehicle they were in was involved in an accident near this area of eastern Imperial County.

Those nine were part of a group of 19 in the vehicle.

The injured were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center and Yuma Regional Medical Center. There was no information available on their conditions.

Border Patrol officials said no driver was identified among the group, so there had been no smuggling arrests in the case.


The SUV was traveling on a dirt road about five miles north of Interstate 8 about 11 p.m. when the accident occurred.

Information on what caused the accident was unavailable, although officials did say the vehicle did not have its lights on.

Officials said Border Patrol agents found the vehicle after it had already come to a stop. They said agents had not been following the vehicle.

The 10 occupants not injured were taken into custody. Officials said it is likely all 10 have been processed back into Mexico.

Until Tuesday's case, that area of the Border Patrol El Centro Sector had been quiet, officials said.

The entire El Centro sector has seen less illegal immigration activity than at this time last year.

However, officials say the busy season is nearing.

Last fiscal year 89 illegal immigrants died while attempting to cross the border in Imperial County. Those deaths include those who died in the desert heat, in local waterways and in traffic accidents.

Those numbers do not include those who died before the start of the new federal fiscal year Oct. 1 but whose bodies were not found until after that date.

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

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