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USBP: 13 killed in Holtville crash suspected to have entered the U.S. illegally

Agents detail events preceding, and following deadly Highway 115 crash

EL CENTRO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - The El Centro Sector Border Patrol now says it suspects all 13 of the people killed in a crash Tuesday morning in Holtville were undocumented immigrants.

Agents say they believe they were part of a group of 44 migrants smuggled through a hole on the border fence near Calexico in the hours before the tragic wreck.

Border Patrol agents said at no point did they try to stop, or pursue, the SUV involved in the crash.

Border Patrol released a timeline Wednesday morning detailing the events that preceded the wreck.

  • 5:56 A.M PST: Radio communications alert agents patrolling the Calexico area that a red Suburban was on fire near Interstate 8 and State Route 115
  • 6:06 A.M. PST: Agents find a 10-foot hole in the border fence near Gordon's Well exit/Schneider's Bride area, 30 miles east of Highway 115.

Agents say they found 19 people hiding in the surrounding bushes while dealing with the burning vehicle. They say all crossed into the U.S. illegally through the gap in the fence.

  • 7 A.M. PST: Law enforcement calls for assistance for a car crash at Highway 115 and Norris Road.

Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue Team (BORSTAR) attempted to help the victims from the accident but 12 of 25 people died on the scene. Another person died at the hospital, making it a total of 13.

CBP said it's investigating the smuggling event but CHP continues to investigate the crash.

“We pray for the accident victims and their families during this difficult time,” said El Centro Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gregory Bovino. “Initial investigation into the origins of the vehicles indicate a potential nexus to the aforementioned breach in the border wall. Human smugglers have proven time and again they have little regard for human life. Those who may be contemplating crossing the border illegally should pause to think of the dangers that all too often end in tragedy; tragedies our Border Patrol Agents and first responders are unfortunately very familiar with.”

Wednesday afternoon Border Patrol confirmed to CBS 13's Alexandra Rangel that both vehicles, including the SUV involved in the wreck, did enter the U.S. illegally.

Alexandra will have more details Wednesday on 13 On Your Side at 4.

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Sumiko Keil

Sumiko Keil has served as the Digital Content Producer since March 2019.

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Alexandra Rangel

Alexandra Rangel joined KSWT in March 2019 as a multimedia journalist.

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