At least 10 people are dead and 20 are injured when an overloaded van crashed Wednesday on a highway in a tiny town about 100 miles south of Corpus Christi, Texas, authorities said.
The crash happened shortly after 4 p.m. at an intersection of U.S. 281 and Business 281 in Encino, Texas, a town of about 140 people.
Brooks County Sheriff Urbino Martinez said the van, designed to hold 15 passengers, was top-heavy and tipped over when the driver lost control on a curve. The van held 29 suspected undocumented migrants, he said.
A witness reportedly saw a Ford van speeding along that highway when the driver tried making a turn, and the van crashed into a metal utility pole, Staff Lt. Christopher Olivarez Texas Highway Patrol said in a statement.
The driver and nine passengers died at the site of the crash, the statement said. 20 people were transported to area hospitals. The deceased's identities were being withheld until relatives can be notified, Olivarez said.
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Sgt. Nathan Brandley of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the death toll was initially announced as 11 but was later revised. He also said the 20 who survived the initial crash all have serious to critical injuries.
Encino is a community of about 140 residents about 2 miles south of the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint. Olivarez said DPS troopers were investigating the crash.
Earlier this year in March, at least 13 people, including the driver, died after an SUV packed with at least 25 undocumented migrants collided with a semi-truck near the U.S.-Mexico border in California. The van Wednesday did not appear to be involved in a pursuit, Martinez told The Monitor.
“Cramming dozens of people into eight-passenger vehicles and driving recklessly to avoid detection shows an utter disregard for human life," said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman in a March statement. "We will find and prosecute smugglers who use these methods and cause such tragic and avoidable deaths.”
Later in March, eight migrants in another overcrowded pickup truck were killed when the vehicle crashed into another truck during a police chase near the Texas border city of Del Rio, authorities said.
The Department of Justice sued the state of Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott last Friday for an executive order that directed state troopers to pull over vehicles suspected of carrying unauthorized migrants in federal custody. The order was blocked Wednesday by a federal judge.
A surge in migrants crossing the border illegally has brought about an uptick in the number of crashes involving vehicles jammed with migrants who pay large amounts to be smuggled into the country.
The Dallas Morning News has reported that the recruitment of young drivers for the smuggling runs, combined with excessive speed and reckless driving by those youths, have led to horrific crashes.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: South Texas crash: 10 people dead after van carrying migrants crashes