The crash happened on U.S. Highway 57 near Batesville, which is about an 83-mile drive southwest from San Antonio, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said post to X.
According to DPS, the operator of a Honda passenger car from Houston suspected of human smuggling passed an 18-wheeler in a no-passing zone while evading the Zavala County Sheriff’s Office.
“The driver drove head-on with a Chevy SUV, causing the vehicle to burst into flames, killing the driver & passenger from Georgia,” the DPS spokesperson said.
“As a result, five passengers, including the suspected smuggler of the Honda, were killed. Troopers confirmed several of the deceased are from Honduras,” the DPS representative added.
NEW: 11/8, @TxDPS is investigating a two-vehicle fatal crash on US 57 near Batesville. The driver in a Honda passenger car from Houston suspected of human smuggling was evading from Zavala COSO when the driver passed an 18-wheeler in a no-passing zone. The driver drove head-on… pic.twitter.com/KdxZ7wmvkk
— Chris Olivarez (@LtChrisOlivarez) November 8, 2023
The DPS spokesperson, Lt. Christopher Olivarez, posted images from the scene, showing the wreckage of both vehicles.
He provided an update identifying the occupants of the Chevy SUV as Jose Lerma, 67, and Isabel Lerma, 65, of Dalton, Georgia, in WhitField County and reporting that their family had been notified.
CNN reported that Olivarez later told the cable news network that six passengers in the Honda had died, making for at least eight total deceased victims.
Fox News reporter Bill Melugin said DPS is investigating the legal status of the suspected human smuggler and noted the passengers of the Honda were illegal immigrants.
Elected officials and others took note of the deadly incident by calling attention to President Joe Biden’s struggles with border security.
“President Biden’s open borders policies have invited 7M illegal aliens into our country — with deadly consequences,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in a post to X.
“Innocent Americans are dead after a vehicle full of illegal immigrants crashed head on while trying to get away from police,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “Another tragic consequence of Biden’s open border.”
Former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller said, “Biden’s immigration policies are evil. And there is not nearly enough outrage in Washington. Not even close.”
The crash took place less than a year and a half after a deadly smuggling incident in which the bodies of dozens of migrants were found in the back of a tractor-trailer around San Antonio. Multiple people have been arrested and charged in connection to that tragedy.