Contributed Photo/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Contributed Article/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection
COCHISE COUNTY – On July 28, at approximately 1:09 p.m., a Cochise County Sheriff’s Office deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle with a temporary license plate on Davis Road near mile marker 18 between the towns of Tombstone and McNeal, Arizona; the vehicle failed to yield. The sheriff’s deputy stopped the pursuit due to the driver’s erratic driving and issued a be-on-the-lookout bulletin for the vehicle to county-wide law enforcement agencies.
The Willcox, Arizona, U.S. Border Patrol Station broadcast the search for the vehicle over the service radio at approximately 2:26 p.m. Two Border Patrol agents in separate vehicles were at a nearby checkpoint and observed the vehicle traveling north on SR 90 at approximately 3:37 p.m. The agents confirmed it was the same vehicle that fled earlier in the day and one agent passed the vehicle on SR 90 to prepare a vehicle immobilization device for deployment in case the vehicle again failed to yield. The second agent continued to follow the vehicle on SR 90. A third agent driving an unmarked Border Patrol vehicle joined behind the vehicle and the marked Border Patrol vehicle a short time later. The agents then attempted to stop the vehicle by activating their emergency lights near mile marker 294 on SR 90, but the vehicle failed to yield and fled from the agents at a high rate of speed.
The first agent, who initially traveled further north to wait for the vehicle, positioned himself near Whetstone Ranch Road and deployed a vehicle immobilization device, which successfully contacted the vehicle, but the driver continued driving north on SR 90. The primary pursuing agent’s vehicle dropped out of the pursuit after inadvertently contacting the immobilization device, which caused damage to a tire. The third agent took over the primary pursuit position with his emergency lights and siren activated. A Supervisory Border Patrol Agent terminated the pursuit at approximately 3:47 p.m. due to it approaching the city of Benson.
The pursuing agent de-activated his emergency equipment and, shortly thereafter, observed an unmarked Benson Police Department vehicle ahead of him activate its emergency lights in an attempt to stop the suspect vehicle. The Border Patrol agent then reactivated his emergency lights and, almost simultaneously, the suspect vehicle collided with a GMC Yukon near the intersection of SR 90 and Village Loop. Both the local police department vehicle and Border Patrol vehicle stopped at the scene of the crash, provided assistance, and requested emergency medical services.
The Benson Fire Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety arrived on the scene a short time later. The driver of the vehicle, a United States citizen, was transported via Life Flight air ambulance to the Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. Health Care Innovations EMS arrived at the scene and medical personnel declared the male passenger of the suspect vehicle, a United States citizen, deceased. Health Care Innovations EMS transported two undocumented migrants to the Benson Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries and then released to the Willcox Border Patrol Station.
This incident is being investigated by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the DHS Office of Inspector General was notified.