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Driver sought after wreck hospitalizes 12 immigrants

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Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 12:51 pm, Fri Jun 14, 2013.

PROGRESO — Border Patrol agents are searching for a driver involved in a car wreck that sent 12 illegal immigrants to the hospital Saturday morning.

Border Patrol agents spotted the vehicle and immigrants about 9:30 a.m. Saturday off a dirt road near Farm-to-Market Road 1015 and Rio Rico Road.  Agents called emergency medical services and the Progreso Police Department, according to a statement sent out by Border Patrol. Twelve people went to the hospital for precautionary measures and one refused treatment. The 12 immigrants have been released from the hospital.

Saturday’s crash came less than two weeks after two fatal wrecks with similar circumstances.

On April 10, nine of the 17 illegal immigrants aboard a Chevy Astro Van were killed — and the rest injured — when it rolled over along Expressway 83 in Palmview. The 15-year-old driver fled the scene, but was arrested two days later. He was charged with nine counts of murder, 17 counts of human smuggling causing serious bodily injury or death and one count of evading arrest with a vehicle.

The day before that deadly wreck, a man died in a similar accident. Eighteen illegal immigrants were packed in a Ford Aerostar minivan when it rolled over on U.S. 83 just west of the La Joya city limits. One man died and 17 others were sent to the hospital. The driver, Juan Carlos Rodriguez Sanchez, 19, ran away from the scene but state troopers arrested him later that day.

He was charged with one count of criminally negligent homicide and 18 counts of failure to stop and render aid.

Border Patrol agents still are investigating Saturday’s crash in Progreso, said Rosalinda Huey, Border Patrol spokeswoman. She did not have a physical description of the driver or vehicle Sunday evening.

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Gail Burkhardt covers Mission, western Hidalgo County, Starr County and general assignments for The Monitor. She can be reached at gburkhardt@themonitor.com and (956) 683-4462.

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