Seven illegal immigrants were killed after a fleeing truck carrying 15 people crashed into a security barrier at a Texas naval base about 100 miles north of the Mexican border.
The incident occurred late Wednesday night and was just being reported on Friday morning.
The extended-cab pickup truck reportedly raced past an officer at the main security gate at Naval Air Station Kingsville near Corpus Christi while being pursued by police, prompting guards to alert the air station's secondary gate, which deployed a pop-up barrier.
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Such barriers are generally used as a deterrent to oncoming vehicles; however in this case, the driver collided with it without slowing down.
In an interview with CNN
, John Gagne, spokesman for the naval air station, said "That's exactly what the barrier is designed to prevent," referring to the driver's behavior. "It's quite possible this guy didn't even know where he was."
According to Gagne, the security force followed protocol adding: "Our gate guard did exactly what he was supposed to do. He stepped out to observe the vehicle coming in and greet the vehicle as he normally would, but the vehicle did not stop."
Of the 15 individuals in the GMC Sierra, 10 were crammed within the extended cab according to Gagne, with the additional five hidden beneath a tarp in the truck's bed.
No military or law enforcement officers were among those hurt according to authorities, who refused to release the names of the victims.
The driver reportedly survived the accident. The eight injured individuals were immediately taken to nearby hospitals via ambulances and helicopters. The conditions of the injured were not known, though some were life-threatening said Gagne.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore told reporters that the crash victims are from Guatemala and Honduras.
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According to Kingsville Police Chief Ricardo Torres, the crash is being investigated by the state's Department of Public Safety, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations team.
The base, which train's Navy and Marine student aviators as well as tactical jet pilots for other select NATO and Allied countries, is situated just south of Corpus Christi.
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