By Calvin Palmer
A sports utility vehicle carrying at least 27 people “stacked like wood” rolled over on a southern Arizona highway early yesterday killing 10 of the passengers.
All the victims are believed to be illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and perhaps Mexico.
The crash occurred near Sonoita, about 40 miles southeast of Tucson, in a remote area commonly used by those smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S.
Arizona Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Joy Craig said: “We see the people stacked like wood frequently. If they had had the right number of people in there and they all had their seat belts on, they would have lived.”
Among the survivors, five people have been airlifted to a Tucson hospital and seven people were transported to hospitals in Tucson and Sierra Vista.
The identity of the driver, passengers and the vehicle’s owner are being withheld pending their identification and notification of relatives.
If the driver survives, Craig said he would likely be charged.
“Basically, this is like a 10-time homicide scene,” she said.
U.S. Border Patrol has eight men who were treated at local hospitals in custody, Border Patrol spokesman Omar Candelaria said.