[EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with additional information from DPS and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office]
McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A van carrying 30 adult migrants overturned, killing 10 on Wednesday afternoon in Brooks County, Texas, the sheriff confirmed to Border Report.
The driver was reportedly speeding over 85 mph and missed a turnoff while attempting to exit Highway 281 just south of a busy U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint, an official with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
The other 20 migrants were seriously injured.
Brooks County Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez told Border Report that the migrants were all adults and were being airlifted to hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley.
“The driver overestimated the curve he was coming up to at a high rate of speed and he just lost it,” Martinez said.
The mangled, white van ended up at the foot of a light pole, Martinez said.
The driver, who died in the crash, had been traveling north in an outside lane on Highway 281 when witnesses say he attempted to turn right and veered off the roadway, Texas Department of Public Safety officials said in a news release late Wednesday.
The area is desolate and dangerous with remote ranch lands about 55 miles north of McAllen, where coyotes, or smugglers, will often transport migrants through the area as they try to get them as close as they can to the checkpoint.
From there they make the migrants walk through brush and tough terrain, sometimes for days to get north of the 12-lane checkpoint.
This crash occurred near Encino, about 10 miles south of the checkpoint around 4 p.m. U.S. Border Patrol agents were among the first responders on the scene and rendered aid, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer told Border Report.
Highway 281 had been closed for several hours, but was reopened shortly after 10 p.m., Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra tweeted. The highway is the only south-to-north thoroughfare from the Rio Grande Valley to points north like Austin, Houston and Dallas.