SANTA TERESA, N.M. (KTSM) – Officials with Sunland Park police confirm two people are dead, and 10 others were sent to El Paso area hospitals following a rollover early Wednesday morning in Santa Teresa.

Daniel Medrano with the Sunland Park Fire Department told KTSM the crash happened around 4:45 a.m. at McNutt and Airport roads in Santa Teresa. He says there were 13 people in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Two died at the scene, ten were injured, and the uninjured driver was taken into custody.

Of the ten injured, one patient was transported via helicopter to University Medical Center in El Paso with critical injuries, and another was taken via ambulance with life-threatening injuries to UMC. The remaining eight patients were transported to area hospitals with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

According to Sunland Park police, the vehicle involved in the rollover was fleeing Border Patrol at the time of the crash. The crash forced the SUV into a utility pole operated by El Paso Electric. They responded to the scene to repair damaged electrical lines.

The Mexican Consulate confirmed that nine of the ten injured passengers were Mexican nationals. The consulate says they’ve been in contact with those who are still hospitalized in El Paso.

New Mexico State Police (NMSP) is handling the investigation into the crash. Sunland Park police, the Sunland Park Fire Department, and Border Patrol are also assisting.

While New Mexico State Police and Sunland Park Fire told KTSM there was a pursuit involved prior to the crash, the agencies declined to say whether Border Patrol was in pursuit or another agency was involved. In a statement, Border Patrol said they “arrived on-scene” to the crash but diverted any additional questions regarding the deadly crash to the New Mexico State Police.

The crash has raised new concerns among immigrant advocacy groups in the Borderland.

According to Rebecca Sheff with the ACLU of New Mexico, there have been 17 fatalities reported in 2022 related to Border Patrol pursuits. There were 23 fatalities in fatal crashes in 2021 and 14 for all of 2020.

In 2020, Border Patrol issued an internal policy regarding pursuits along Paisano Drive in Downtown El Paso following two deadly pursuits along that stretch of road, including a crash that left seven dead, including four El Pasoans.

“I think when you have so much investment in militarization and deterrence, incidents like these are becoming far more common,” said Marisa Limon Garza, Senior Director for Advocacy and programming at the Hope Border Institute in El Paso. “That’s one thing we have raised to the Department of Homeland Security at headquarters in D.C. They tell us that is something they’re addressing. I know it’s something no one wants to see. It’s horrible and adds to a litany of migrants who are dying in the United States as a result of these deterrence tactics and policies.” 

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