Two days after a gruesome pickup truck crash killed 14 people on a rural Texas highway, authorities turned to the grisly task of identifying the victims, believed to be undocumented immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
Most of the victims were not carrying identification, so authorities have turned to using fingerprints and photographs found at the crash site in an attempt to identify them. Victor Emilio Corzo of the Mexican Consulate in San Antonio told Spanish-language media outlets that the majority of the victims were from Guatemala. He confirmed that at least one victim was of Mexican origin. Corzo added that survivors were being treated in hospitals in San Antonio, Corpus Cristi and Victoria.
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Twenty-three immigrants packed into the cab of a white Ford F-250 Sunday night before it crashed into two trees in Berclair, Texas, roughly 90 miles southeast of San Antonio. Eleven people, including two young children, died at the scene, while three others died at nearby hospitals. The nine surviving immigrants were admitted into several area hospitals, according to officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“It’s the worst single-vehicle wreck I’ve worked in my 40 years in the funeral business,” Adrian Fulton, a local funeral home director, told the Associated Press.
Tire failure and high speeds may have caused the wreck, which is being labeled as one of the deadliest in Texas history. Police officials estimate the truck was traveling at a speed of 75 m.p.h. before it swerved into two trees head-on. “This if the most people I’ve seen in any passenger vehicle, and I’ve been an officer for 38 years, ” Texas State Trooper Gerald Bryant told the AP.
The accident occurred on a rural but busy stretch of U.S. Highway 59, which runs from border town Laredo, Texas to Houston and is considered a popular route for immigrant smugglers. Sunday’s deadly crash occurred about 40 miles from the site of one the United States’ deadliest immigrant smuggling incidents. In 2003, 19 immigrants, mostly from Central America, died of asphyxia when they were abandoned in a sweltering trailer. And in April, nine undocumented immigrants died in the Rio Grande Valley when their van overturned while being chased by U.S. Border Patrol agents.