McALLEN, Texas (AP) — State authorities believe that a pickup truck's front right tire came apart, likely causing the vehicle to veer off a rural highway and crash, killing 14 suspected illegal immigrants in South Texas.
The truck packed with 23 people crashed Sunday evening near Goliad, about 90 miles southeast of San Antonio. Nine passengers remain hospitalized. Investigators were working to identify the victims who they said are from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.
"More than likely the crash was caused by front right tire separation," Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Gerald Bryant said Tuesday. The investigation into the crash continues, but it appears layers of the tire had come apart, Bryant said.
Bryant would not say if the tire was old and worn, nor if the separation was a manufacturing issue. He did not name the tire brand.
Eleven people died at the scene, including at least two children. Three more died later at hospitals.
The Mexican consulate confirmed that one 22-year-old man from Tamaulipas, a state bordering South Texas was among the dead. In a statement, the Guatemalan government said that at least two Guatemalans died in the accident, a 27-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman.
Crashes of vehicles overloaded with illegal immigrants moving north from the border occur periodically, often as they attempt to evade authorities.
In April, nine Mexican immigrants died near the border when the teenage driver of their van crashed after fleeing Border Patrol. There were 18 people in that minivan.
In that case, six adults face a variety of federal charges and the 15-year-old driver was charged in state court with nine counts of murder.