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Head-on crash near Florence kills 8, including 4 migrants

Eight people, including four immigrants in the U.S. without authorization, were killed in a head-on crash on a rural stretch of State Route 79 north of Tucson late Wednesday night, authorities said. A Buick passenger car crossed the centerline, colliding with a Chevy Suburban carrying seven migrants and two U.S. citizens.

At 9:57 p.m., troopers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety responded to a two-vehicle collision on SR79 at milepost 122.3, just south of the city of Florence, about 50 miles northwest of Tucson. 

A Suburban carrying nine people was traveling northbound on the rural two-lane highway when it was struck head-on by a Buick passenger vehicle after the driver of the car crossed the centerline, said a DPS official in a news release. 

"It is unknown why the southbound Buick went left of center and collided head on with the Suburban," he said. 

The driver and front-seat passenger in the Suburban were U.S. citizens and the other seven passengers were in the country illegally. The driver, the front-seat passenger, and four passengers were killed in the collision. 

The remaining three were transported to area hospitals with "serious to life-threatening injuries," he said. DPS had earlier announced that nine people were killed, but provided an update that one person was in "extremely critical condition."

Both the driver and the front-seat passenger in the Buick were killed in the crash, he said. 

Troopers are working with the Department of Homeland Security to attempt to identify and make next-of-kin notifications for the immigrants killed in the accident, which will take time to complete, he said. 

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SR79 was closed for several hours, until it was re-opened around 4 a.m. Thursday, he said. 

Last year, a federal judge sentenced a Mexican man to 10 years in prison for his role in a crash that killed four immigrants near Eloy, Ariz., in 2008. 

Hector Salas-Garcia, 40, plead guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death after the truck he was driving, packed with at least 31 people, rolled over killing four. 

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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