Chase on Texas border that killed 8 puts high-speed pursuits in spotlight again

Mangled vehicles at the scene of crash on Wednesday near Batesville, Texas. (Texas Department of Public Safety/via AP)

AUSTIN, Texas — The white Honda Civic sped down Highway 57, a rural two-lane corridor that reaches the U.S.-Mexico border, after a Texas sheriff’s deputy tried pulling over the car and gave chase when it didn’t stop.

High-speed pursuits of migrants and suspected smugglers have become routine in Texas. But Wednesday’s chase came to one of the deadliest endings in recent years: a head-on crash that killed eight people, including Honduran citizens and two residents of Georgia.


The mangled wreckage at the scene near La Pryor, a small town about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of San Antonio, laid bare the danger of high-speed pursuits undertaken by an ever-expanding presence of law enforcement at the border. Texas alone has stationed hundreds of additional troopers the past two years in the name of curbing the flow of migrants and drugs.

The crash has also renewed criticism that the pursuits are too fast and have gone on for too long despite chases that have ended in injuries or death. In January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a new policy for vehicle pursuits with an eye toward increasing safety.

For some, changes haven’t spread wide enough.

“They can mitigate getting into these issues and these high-speed chases that end in death,” said David Stout, a county commissioner in El Paso.

Stout said Texas troopers have engaged in roughly 500 high-speed pursuits in his border county alone this year, more than half of which exceeded speeds of 100 mph (160 kph).

Authorities had still not released identities of the victims Thursday, including the 21-year-old driver of the Civic and five passengers in the vehicle. The Civic collided with a Chevrolet Equinox, which caught fire with a man and woman inside. Both were killed.

It is not clear the top speeds the cars reached during the pursuit, which began when a Zavala County sheriff’s deputy tried pulling the Civic over around dawn. The sheriff’s office did not comment Thursday beyond providing a brief report.

The crash is under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which oversees Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s sprawling border mission known as Operation Lone Star. The department did not immediately provide figures on high-speed pursuits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email