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Border Patrol agents testify in triple fatal chase, crash

Posted at 8:22 PM, Jun 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-03 23:22:00-04

(KGTV) -- Testimony will continue Tuesday in the preliminary exam for the suspected smuggler charged with murder after leading the border patrol on a wild, high speed chase that ended with the deaths of three of his passengers.

It happened on westbound Interstate 8 near Boulevard on the evening of November 29th, 2018. Luis Virgen, 21, is a U.S. citizen who had been living in Tijuana at the time of the crash. He's charged with second degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter.

Virgen is accused of smashing through a gate that leads into the U.S. from Mexico with 10 undocumented immigrants in his truck, including 9 in the bed of the truck under a tarp. Everyone but the driver was thrown from the truck when it crashed after hitting a spike strip deployed by the border patrol.

Gregg Curtis testified that after the truck blew past him, he started shooting video with his cellphone in case something happened. Curtis can be heard talking under the cellphone video, which was played in court Monday.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he totally crashes his brains out," said Curtis.

RELATED: Investigation looks into Border Patrol pursuits, crashes

David Rieu is a professional truck driver. He also testified about how fast the defendant was going.

"I was alarmed at a vehicle passing me at such a large rate of speed that it shook my truck," said Rieu.

The border patrol received some criticism following the incident, some questioning why they didn't call off the chase given the wet roads and dangerous conditions at the time. Several agents testified that they had no idea that the truck's bed was hiding several undocumented immigrants.

Another agent described how he tried to revive the victims.

"Another individual, I cradled his head, he was moaning and groaning, and I told him he was going to be fine that it was just a scratch and to stay awake," said Agent Jahir Waterman.

If convicted on all counts, Virgen could spend 45 years to life in prison.