By Jared Taylor
EDINBURG, Texas (Reuters) - Fourteen people died after a pickup truck jammed with 23 suspected illegal immigrants veered off a rural South Texas highway on Sunday and struck a tree, police said on Monday.
Eleven people were killed on impact and three died at area hospitals, police said. The nine other people in the truck were injured.
The one-vehicle crash Sunday on Highway 59 south of San Antonio near the Gulf of Mexico coastline is believed to be the second fatal accident in the past three months in the region that involved human smuggling.
The driver lost control, crashed into a tree and was pinned in the vehicle and died, said Trooper Gerald Bryant, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman. Investigators are trying to determine what caused the driver to lose control, he said.
Federal officials believe the people riding in the Ford pickup truck were from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
"We suspect at this time it is going to be illegal immigrants that were in the vehicle, based on the way they were traveling," said Lieutenant Glen Garrett of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Eleven of the dead were males and three were females, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Two children were among the dead.
Some were killed in the truck and others were thrown from the vehicle, Bryant said.
"It was a very solemn scene," Bryant said. "It's hard to believe that number of people were in just that one vehicle."
The injured people were transported to hospitals in the Texas cities of Victoria, Corpus Christi and San Antonio.
State troopers are working with U.S. immigration and border control officials to identify the victims, Bryant said.
"It's going to be a long process to identify all the people in the vehicle," he said.
In April, nine of 17 illegal immigrants in a packed minivan were killed when the vehicle rolled over while being pursued by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the border with Mexico in Palmview. The suspected driver, a 15-year-old boy, and six others were charged in that fatal crash.
(Editing By Corrie MacLaggan and Eric Beech)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp