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Cal Fire San Diego firefighters work at the scene of a crash that killed three people and injured eight, three seriously, on Thursday afternoon on westbound Interstate 8 near Boulevard. (Courtesy of Cal Fire San Diego)
Three people were killed and eight were injured when a pickup fleeing from Border Patrol agents hit a spike strip, veered onto an embankment and rolled Thursday afternoon on westbound Interstate 8 near Boulevard, authorities said.
Border Patrol agents gave chase to the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, which had two people in the cab and nine in the bed, about 4:25 p.m., CHP spokesman Officer Travis Garrow said. The truck crashed while fleeing at an “extremely high rate of speed” on the two-lane interstate east of Crestwood Road near the Golden Acorn Casino.
“It was spike-stripped by the Border Patrol, continued westbound, went up a dirt and rock embankment and rolled, ejecting either nine or 10 people out of the vehicle,” Garrow said.
A male driver and a female passenger were believed to be the only occupants seated in the cab of the truck, Garrow said. Nine men were in the bed, which had no camper shell or other type of covering.
According to a CHP incident log, witnesses reported the pickup was weaving in and out of traffic and passing other motorists using the center median and right shoulder at speeds of more than 100 mph.
Three people were killed, including the only woman, and the rest sustained moderate to major injuries, Garrow said.
Cal Fire San Diego said three of the victims sustained major injuries and five others suffered minor injuries.
Garrow said the truck’s driver was in Border Patrol custody Thursday night. Border Patrol officials said they were preparing a statement about the incident.
The ages and immigration statuses of the victims were not immediately known.
Both westbound lanes of I-8 were shut down approaching the Crestwood Road exit, and the interstate remained closed as of 7:30 p.m.
Motorists were being diverted off westbound I-8 and onto Old Highway 80 at Ribbonwood Road, several miles east of the crash. Vehicles were being allowed back onto westbound I-8 at Crestwood Road.
Border Patrol policy states that agents may get involved in pursuits only when the benefit outweighs any immediate danger created by speeding or other emergency driving techniques.
Federal officials have said pursuits involving agents are rare, but Thursday’s crash was the second in the past 16 months that resulted in three deaths.
The other triple-fatality chase happened in August 2017 after Border Patrol agents spotted a Black GMC Envoy that, according to an alert, was associated with an armed and dangerous man suspected of murder and human smuggling.
When the agents tried to pull the vehicle over, the driver sped off. The vehicle was traveling at high speeds when it went off Interstate 15 and into a Rancho Bernardo ravine, killing three of the four people inside.
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A Border Patrol agent walks near the secondary fence separating Tijuana, Mexico, background, and San Diego in San Diego. | Gregory Bull/AP Photo
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he intended to deploy troops along the U.S.-Mexico border until a wall was built there, proposing an escalation of efforts to prevent people from entering the country illegally via the southern border.
The move would ramp up Trump’s battle over immigration, after he has run into hurdles carrying out his campaign-trail promise to build a wall at Mexico’s expense. Most recently, he has been preoccupied by a group of migrants, mostly from Honduras, making their way north through Mexico toward the U.S.
“We are going to be guarding our border with our military. That’s a big step,” Trump said on Tuesday during a session at the White House with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. “We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing and, by the way, never showing up for court.”
Later on Tuesday at a news conference with the three Baltic leaders, Trump said he would have a meeting on the deployment “in a little while” with Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was at the earlier meeting. The president offered little else in the way of details on what shape his plan to put U.S. soldiers on the nation’s southern border might take.
“The Mexican border is very unprotected by our laws,” he said. “We have horrible, horrible and very unsafe laws in the United States, and we’re going to be able to do something about that, hopefully soon. We are preparing for the military to secure our border between Mexico and the United States. We have a meeting on it in a little while with General Mattis and everybody. And I think that it’s something we have to do.”
A senior official at the Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday that putting troops on the U.S.-Mexico border had been under discussion but that no rollout had been planned because of unresolved policy issues. The official said Mattis did not want armed troops at the border.
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