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2 killed during Border Patrol chase after driver rolls over near Douglas

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2 killed during Border Patrol chase after driver rolls over near Douglas

2 teens, including 18-year-old from Maricopa County, were involved in alleged smuggling attempt

  • The U.S.-Mexico border from inside a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle near Naco, Ariz. in March.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comThe U.S.-Mexico border from inside a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle near Naco, Ariz. in March.

Two people were killed Tuesday night when the driver of a minivan, suspected of smuggling four people in the country illegally, crashed while trying to avoid tire spikes deployed by Border Patrol agents on State Route 80 north of Douglas, Ariz. 

Of the five occupants who were in the vehicle, one man died at the scene when he was flung from the minivan, and the 17-year-old driver, identified only as C.T. in court documents, suffered serious injuries and was transported to Douglas Rural Health Clinic where he later died. 

A third man was transported to Banner University Medical Center in Tucson where he remains in critical condition.  

Federal agents arrested 18-year-old Kiano Talifero Williams in connection with incident, and he faces six charges of  human smuggling, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court. 

An agent with  Homeland Security Investigations, a part of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement filed the criminal complaint against Williams. In the court document, HSI Agent Cole Kynaston wrote the incident began around 7 p.m., when Border Patrol agents attempted to stop the white Honda minivan on State Route 80 as it headed east toward New Mexico, and the driver fled, ignoring their lights and sirens. 

State Route 80 links the border town of Douglas about 103 miles southeast of Tucson to Bisbee and Tombstone, and heads east toward New Mexico, running to the south of Interstate 10.

A helicopter crew with Air and Marine Operations — a part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection — flew ahead of the minivan, landed and an agent deployed a "tire deflation device" or spike strip, near mile marker 400. The teen driver attempted to avoid the tire spikes, and lost control, rolling the minivan "multiple times." 

Emergency medical personnel, including a Life Flight air ambulance, responded to the scene, said a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector.

A Mexican immigrant in the country without authorization who was identified only as D. R.-C., was "ejected from the vehicle," Kynaston wrote. D. R.-C. suffered fatal injuries, he said. 

Three other people were rescued from the wreckage. 

One man, identified only as J. V.-P., was transported to Banner University Medical Center in Tucson where he's been kept on life support, Kynaston and the other two men were transported to Douglas Rural Health Clinic and treated for their injuries, including a compound fracture to an arm. 

During the investigation, HSI agents connected the crash to Williams, who had been arrested by Border Patrol agents shortly before the minivan fled. Agents stopped Williams while he was driving a 2012 Jaguar XJL and had four people inside who were all suspected of being in the country illegally. 

When agents stopped Williams, they saw C.T. drive past in the Honda, and "realized that the two vehicles were possibly connected in the same smuggling attempt," Kynaston wrote. Agents later found that the brother of one of Williams' passengers was in the rollover, but suffered only minor injuries in the crash. 

Williams told agents that he and C.T. were "co-conspirators" and were trying to smuggle eight people to Phoenix for profit, wrote Kynaston. 

A BP spokesman said that the incident is under investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and is also under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.  

Yasmeen Pitts-O'Keefe, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that the "investigation was ongoing" and that she didn't have any additional details. 

Williams was arrested in 2019 for assaulting a corrections officer. He pleaded guilty earlier this year, and was sentenced to three years supervised probation, according to court records from Maricopa County. 

Earlier this year in January, two Mexican men were killed when the driver of a vehicle crashed on Arivaca-Sasabe Road. The driver in that crash was 17, and was charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal damage, unlawful flight from law enforcement officers, and DUI. 

In the release, Border Patrol officials urged migrants to "think twice before putting their lives in the hands of smugglers" noting that the agency has rescued "countless individuals from criminal smugglers." 

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