According to Texas DPS Lt. Glenn Garrett, a 2000 Ford F-250 pickup was traveling northbound with 23 occupants when it lost control, swerved toward the right off the highway and struck a tree.
“We had 11 fatalities on scene and there were 12 people who were transported to a variety of hospitals and one of those has died in a Corpus Christi hospital,” Garrett said Sunday night. Since then, two more have died.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents were looking into possible human smuggling in the case. According to ICE spokesman Greg Palmore, 11 men and three females died. Among them were citizens of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
DPS spokesman Gerald Bryant said two young children were among the dead.
“This is the most people I’ve seen in any passenger vehicle, and I’ve been an officer for 38 years,” Bryant said.
According to Garrett, investigators suspected a blowout of one of the pickup’s tires led to the driver losing control of the vehicle.
“There is nothing to indicate they were driving over the speed limit. The speed limit is 75 mph here,” Garrett said. “It looks like it was a tire deflation in the right front tire.”
Six of the dead were found inside the cab of the pickup. Five passengers riding in the bed of the pickup were killed after being ejected.
Emergency workers didn’t finish removing bodies from the scene until around 11 p.m.
Four of the injured were transported by ambulance to Victoria’s DeTar Hospital Navarro before being airlifted to a San Antonio hospital. One victim was airlifted from the scene to San Antonio, three were airlifted to a Corpus Christi hospital, and four were transported by ambulance to Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville.