HOLTVILLE, Calif. - Thirteen people killed in one of the deadliest border crashes on record were among more than 40 migrants who entered the U.S. through a hole cut into Southern California’s border fence with Mexico, the Border Patrol said Wednesday.
Surveillance video showed a Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban drive through the opening early Tuesday, Gregory Bovino, the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector chief, told The Associated Press. It is believed they were part of a migrant smuggling operation.
The Suburban carried 19 people, and it caught fire for unknown reasons on a nearby interstate after entering the U.S. All escaped the vehicle and were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents.
The Expedition crammed with 25 people continued on, and a tractor-trailer struck it a short time later. Ten of the 13 killed have been identified as Mexican citizens. The rest of those in the SUV and the truck driver survived.
The Border Patrol said its agents were not pursuing the vehicle before the crash. The opening in the fence was about 30 miles east of the crash in the heart of California’s Imperial Valley, a major farming region.
It was made of steel bollards that were built before former President Donald Trump blanketed much of the border with taller barriers that go deeper into the ground.