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6 Killed in Arizona As SUV Flees Deputies

By ANABELLE GARAY, Associated Press Writer

PHOENIX - A stolen truck filled with suspected illegal immigrants sped away from deputies and rolled over at a busy intersection near an Army post Saturday, causing an 11-car crash that killed six people and seriously injured 15, sheriff's officials said.



Passengers were thrown from the truck as it struck a center median and began to spiral, hitting vehicles waiting at a turn lane, Deputy Chief Randy Redmond of the Sierra Vista Fire Department said. Investigators think the truck was traveling at about 90 mph when it lost control near Fort Huachuca in southeastern Arizona, he said.


At least 20 people were in the truck, Redmond said.


"This is the worst multiple fatality accident I've been on," Redmond said. "To have people pinned, the huge language barrier, it was really a horrible, horrible scene."


The impact tore the roofs from some cars and trapped some motorists in their vehicles, Redmond said.


Five people died at the scene. Two people were flown from the scene and another 20 were transported by ambulance to hospitals, where one victim later died, according to the fire department.


Cochise County deputies believed the truck was carrying illegal immigrants. They first saw the vehicle driving out of a brushy area along a highway and trailed it for a short time, sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas said.


Deputies called for backup and stopped chasing the vehicle after the suspect sped and drove away recklessly, Capas said.


Authorities then spotted the truck heading north on State Route 90. Sierra Vista police officers used tire deflation devices to slow the vehicle, said Frank Valenzuela, a spokesman for the Public Safety Department.


The driver lost control shortly before noon at a busy intersection near the east entrance to Fort Huachuca, an Army post next to Sierra Vista. Traffic in the area was diverted to Tombstone while authorities investigated.


The vehicle had been reported stolen in Phoenix, Capas said.


Vehicle-related deaths of undocumented immigrants have been on the rise in Arizona, many of them involving overloaded vehicles used by immigrant smugglers.


Also in the past year or so, authorities have noticed that stolen vehicles are being used more frequently for smuggling human cargo.
 
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