Austin man charged in connection with crash that killed 8 immigrants near Del Rio

Border Crime

Debris is strewn across a road near the border city of Del Rio, Texas after a collision Monday, March 15, 2021. Eight people in a pickup truck loaded with immigrants were killed when the vehicle collided with an SUV following a police chase, authorities said. (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP)

DEL RIO, Texas (KXAN) — An Austin man is charged in connection with a crash that killed eight undocumented immigrants near the border city of Del Rio on Monday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Sebastian Tovar, 24, of Austin, appeared in federal court Wednesday. He is charged for his role in a conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants resulting in death. He faces up to life in federal prison if he is convicted.

According to ICE, court documents allege Tovar was traveling in a pickup on FM 2523. A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper tried to pull him over for speeding, but he didn’t stop. The trooper chased Tovar for about 50 miles. Speeds reached more than 100 miles per hour, according to ICE.

Tovar then reportedly went north into the southbound lane on Highway 277 and collided with another car head on. Eight undocumented immigrants in Tovar’s truck died, ICE said. The Associated Press reports another passenger who was also an immigrant survived.

All victims were from Mexico and between the ages of 18 and 20, AP said. Seven were men, and one was a woman. Law enforcement did say Tovar tried to run away after the crash but was later arrested.

Two people in the other car that was hit — a driver and child passenger, according to the AP — were taken to the hospital and are in stable condition.

Another truck also reportedly involved in the same smuggling attempt was found after the crash on Highway 277. Multiple occupants jumped out of that pickup and ran away. Twelve immigrants were apprehended, according to ICE. Two of the immigrants said they were divided up between the two trucks for the journey.

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