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Three die after SUV becomes submerged
COURTESY KENS 5
Representatives of various local, state, and federal agencies respond to a property on F.M. 427 near Poth Feb. 6, after a sport-utility vehicle packed with illegal immigrants was driven into a stock tank.
POTH -- Officials from the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office have confirmed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged two men following the deaths of three illegal immigrants northeast of here Feb. 6.
Javier Silva Morales, 31, and 25-year-old Jose Abram Lopez-Lozano each were arraigned in San Antonio Feb. 7, after being charged with smuggling causing death.
Three illegal immigrants, believed to be from Guatemala died and 12 were captured, following a police pursuit and subsequent crash on F.M. 427 near C.R. 225.Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said that Deputy Blake Breieden reported spotting two Chevrolet sport-utility vehicles traveling together on F.M. 427 at approximately 4 a.m. One of the vehicles, a Chevrolet Tahoe, only had one working headlight. This is why the deputy initiated a traffic stop approximately one mile from C.R. 225, Tackitt said.
When the deputy exited his vehicle, the Tahoe sped off into the rainy darkness. The vehicle then crashed through a fence near the intersection of the two roadways, entered a pasture, and landed in a stock tank.
Tackitt said the other vehicle departed in an unknown direction of travel. Officials captured 11 males and 1 female, all suspected to be from Guatemala, who were transported to the Wilson County Jail and transferred to federal custody. Some of the survivors were rescued from the roof of the sinking SUV.
Divers from the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, who were assisted at the scene by members of the Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department and the Wilson County Emergency Medical Services, recovered the three bodies from the tank at approximately 1 p.m. Tackitt said the three males were found near their submerged SUV. Only one of the men had identification; he was 21 years old. The sheriff said the other two men were believed to be younger.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Tackitt said. “It’s sad that they try to come over here and make a better life for themselves, only to end up in a stock tank dead.”
Sheriff’s officials, along with the Texas Rangers, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continue their investigation. Investigator Richard Nichols said ICE officials collected fingerprints from the bodies of the deceased before transporting them to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, where autopsies will be performed.
Nichols also said that Morales and Lopez-Lozano, and possibly a third survivor, will face state-level charges. It is believed that one of the three was the Tahoe’s driver.
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