SAN DIEGO (AP) — Testimony released Monday says the driver of an SUV packed with migrants stopped or slowed before getting slammed by a tractor-trailer in one of the deadliest border-related crashes.
Results of the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary investigation include the first published account of the driver of a tractor-trailer, who survived the March 2 crash in California’s Imperial Valley that killed 13 of 25 people inside the 1997 Ford Expedition, including the driver.
The driver of the big rig suffered moderate injuries. The deceased are from Mexico and Guatemala.
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Jose Cruz Noguez of Mexicali, Mexico, was charged in federal court in March with coordinating the smuggling event, according to the office of acting U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of California Randy Grossman.
An associate reportedly told authorities that Cruz, "told his associate there would be up to 20 people in the vehicle and that the associate would be paid $1,000 per person for the job. According to the complaint, Cruz also told the associate that Cruz would oversee the smuggling event and would arrange for the vehicles that crossed to go to a stash house in Holtville, California. The associate claimed he declined Cruz’s offer."