Friday, September 25, 2009

Wreck on causeway nets six illegal South American immigrants (Victoria Advocate)

Wreck on causeway nets six illegal South American immigrants

Originally published September 16, 2009 at 7:06 p.m.
Updated September 16, 2009 at 11:20 p.m.

PORT LAVACA - A traffic stop turned high-speed chase down state Highway 35 and over the Lavaca Bay causeway ended in a bail out of more than 10 suspected illegal immigrants Wednesday afternoon.

The chase began as a traffic stop at the intersection of Half League Street and state Highway 35, Police Chief John Stewart said.

The white Ford van increased in speed going north on state Highway 35 and rear-ended a vehicle on the causeway. It also eventually rear-ended Officer Stephen Stroud's patrol vehicle, Stewart said.

People then began jumping out of the van, Stewart said.

At one point, the van was recorded traveling more than 80 mph in a 40 mph zone, Stewart added.

The condition of two women in the first vehicle stuck was unknown, Stewart said.

Stroud was taken to Memorial Medical Center for observation and was later released, the chief said.

"The officer had no idea all these people were in there," Stewart said.

At least six of the suspected illegal immigrants were caught and taken into custody. The rest got lost in the brush, he said.

"They all appear to be South American," Stewart said. "We're calling immigration to come in."

Several of those apprehended sustained injuries as a result of the wrecks, Stewart said.

Though the search was called off, the police department, Calhoun County Sheriff's Office and a Department of Public Safety helicopter continued searching the area Wednesday afternoon.

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