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Agency: 3 killed in head-on crash; smuggling attempt cited

April 21, 2022 GMT

PICACHO, Ariz. (AP) — Three people were killed Thursday in a head-on Arizona freeway collision that involved attempted human smuggling, officials said.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said the collision occurred when an SUV being pursued by a state trooper crossed the median of Interstate 10 in the desert between Phoenix and Tucson and collided with a tractor-trailer rig.

Those killed were among eight people in the SUV, with two being pronounced dead at the scene and one on arrival at a hospital, DPS spokesman Bart Graves said.

No additional information was immediately available on possible injuries to others.

The crash occurred following a pursuit that began when a state trooper attempted to stop the SUV “for an unknown violation” as it headed west toward Phoenix, Graves said in an email.

Graves said federal officials had been contacted for assistance.

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The Homeland Security Investigations arm of federal Immigration Control and Enforcement said in a statement its special agents would be looking into “the attempted human smuggling activity.”

It said information would be limited during the investigation. Customs and Border Protection, a related federal agency, issued a similar statement.

The crash occurred near Picacho, which is 48 miles (77 kilometers) northwest of Tucson.