A 21-year-old man was behind bars Friday on suspicion of leading Border Patrol agents on a high-speed pursuit that ended when he crashed the truck he was driving on Interstate 8 in Boulevard, killing three of the suspected undocumented immigrants riding unrestrained in the pickup and injuring the other seven.
Luis Alberto Virgen, a U.S. citizen who lives in Tijuana, allegedly sped off when the federal personnel tried to pull over the passenger-packed white Chevrolet Silverado he was driving near the Mexican border in eastern San Diego County shortly before 4:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the California Highway Patrol.
With the agents giving chase, Virgen entered Interstate 8 at Buckman Springs Road and fled to the east briefly before exiting at Ribbonwood Road and re-entering the freeway, this time headed west, the Border Patrol reported.After fleeing for several more miles, the suspect ran over a tire-flattening spike strip that agents had laid across the roadway in his path east of Crestwood Road, according to the federal agency.
About a minute later, the Silverado — occupied by a single passenger in the front and the rest in the cargo bed — veered off the interstate, went up a dirt embankment, became airborne, overturned and rolled back down the sloping roadside onto the freeway.
Virgen was the only one in the truck wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, and the others were ejected, CHP public-affairs Officer Travis Garrow said. Two of the male passengers and the sole female member of the group died at the scene of the wreck.
The names of the deceased were withheld pending family notification.
Medics took Virgen and the surviving passengers to a hospital for treatment of moderate to serious injuries, Garrow said.
About an hour after the fatal accident, Border Patrol personnel in the area came across another vehicle believed to have been involved in the apparent human-smuggling attempt and arrested a second man. The suspect’s name was not released.
Virgen was booked into San Diego Central Jail early Friday morning on suspicion of three counts of vehicular manslaughter. He was being held on $150,000 bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Updated at 5 p.m. Nov. 30, 2018
— City News Service
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