PICACHO PEAK — Three people were killed and six injured Saturday evening when a vehicle that U.S. Border Patrol agents were pursuing crashed near Picacho Peak and caught fire, authorities said.
At around 7 p.m. on Saturday, a Jeep Liberty fled the Border Patrol checkpoint at Three Points, southwest of Tucson, according to Border Patrol spokesman Rob Daniels.
Border Patrol agents and a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations helicopter from the Tucson station followed the vehicle as it traveled east on State Route 86 into Tucson, running several red lights in the process.
Daniels said the driver of the Jeep then turned north on Interstate 19 and merged onto Interstate 10 westbound. A National Guard helicopter took over the chase from the Border Patrol helicopter around Marana.
At around 8 p.m., Border Patrol agents attempted to stop the vehicle by using an immobilization device near Picacho Peak, Daniels said. The driver of the Jeep lost control, crossed the median and struck a tractor-trailer traveling in the eastbound lanes of I-10.
The Jeep then traveled back into the median, where it caught fire. Border Patrol agents called for emergency medical aid and pulled several people from the vehicle. A total of 11 people were pulled from the wrecked vehicle, Daniels said. Two were declared dead at the scene.
Two other people were transported by a Life Flight EMS helicopter to Banner-University Medical Center’s main campus in Tucson. One of those transported by helicopter later died at the hospital. Six other people were transported via ground ambulance to the same hospital and one person was transported to the Tucson Coordination Center and then Banner-University Medical Center’s South Campus for an evaluation.
The incident is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and being reviewed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility. The Homeland Security Office of Inspector General was also notified of the incident.