SAN DIEGO — Two people died along the I-5 freeway following a port runner attempt at the San Ysidro Port of Entry early Sunday morning.
“This dangerous and ultimately fatal incident provides another example of why we caution people that their lives are often put at risk when deciding to try and cross the border illegally,” said Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego.
On Sunday, Sept. 17, at approximately 1:45 a.m., U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry observed a white van traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 and activated the port runner alarm system at the port of entry.
CBP officers in a pre-positioned pursuit vehicle left the port of entry traveling northbound in the northbound lanes of the I-5, spotted the vehicle stopped on the opposite side of the highway, exited the freeway and drove to the site. CBP officers notified California Highway Patrol and U.S. Border Patrol of the incident, and both responded.
U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended seven individuals, near the scene, who had abandoned the vehicle. They included six Mexican nationals - three male minors, and men ages 18, 27 and 34 - as well as one 24-year-old male Chinese national, all of whom had illegally entered the U.S.
Two additional people, a man and a woman, who had also abandoned the van, were struck by a vehicle traveling southbound on the highway and were pronounced dead at the scene by arriving Emergency Medical Services responders. Both were later identified as Mexican citizens, both 30, with no legal status in the United States. California Highway Patrol responded to the scene and conducted an investigation into the accident.
One of the seven people apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol agents was identified as the suspected driver of the van, a 34-year-old man, who will face federal prosecution. CBP officers also seized the van, a 1999 Dodge Caravan with no license plates.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.