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  4. Driver dies in crash following failure to yield and CBP deployment of vehicle immobilization device in Winterhaven, California

Driver dies in crash following failure to yield and CBP deployment of vehicle immobilization device in Winterhaven, California

Release Date
Fri, 03/22/2024
For More Information
(202) 344-1780

On March 8, 2024, at approximately 11:15 a.m., the U.S. Border Patrol El Centro Sector communications center broadcasted that a stolen vehicle, described as a white Dodge Caravan, was reportedly seen near the California Department of Food and Agriculture Station on Interstate 8 (I-8) in Winterhaven, CA.  
Based on the review of radio traffic, body worn camera footage, and interviews of personnel involved in the incident, Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Professional Responsibility established the following initial timeline of events.  
At approximately 11:25 a.m., a Border Patrol agent in a Border Patrol marked vehicle encountered a vehicle matching the description at the intersection of I-8 and State Route 7 (SR 7) near Calexico, CA. The agent followed the vehicle, provided the license plate to El Centro Sector radio communications, and received a confirmation that it was the stolen vehicle from the earlier broadcast.  
At approximately 11:33 a.m., the agent activated his emergency equipment and performed a vehicle stop on the southbound shoulder of SR 7, approximately three-quarters of a mile south of Heber Road. Once the vehicle stopped, the agent reportedly observed the rear driver’s-side sliding door open and directed the driver to stay inside the vehicle and close the door. The driver then opened the driver’s-side door and exited the vehicle. The agent saw what appeared to be a firearm in the driver’s right hand and ordered him to drop it. As a second agent arrived at the scene of the traffic stop, the driver reentered his vehicle and drove away southbound on SR 7. The second agent took the primary position in the pursuit and, at 11:35 a.m., broadcasted via radio a request for another agent to position himself so that he could deploy a Vehicle Immobilization Device (VID). A Supervisory Border Patrol Agent answered the agent’s broadcast and stated he could deploy a VID on SR 98. The Dodge Caravan continued southbound on SR 7 and turned westbound onto SR 98. The supervisor positioned himself approximately 3.9 miles west of SR 7, near the intersection of SR 98 and Aderholdt Road, and prepared to deploy the VID. At approximately 11:38 a.m., as the Dodge Caravan passed his location, the supervisor successfully deployed the VID and it subsequently deflated the two front tires. The agents continued to pursue the Dodge Caravan westbound on SR 98.  
At approximately 11:39 a.m., after traveling approximately 0.8 miles from the location of the VID deployment, the Dodge Caravan left the roadway, traveled across an open area on the side of the road, and drove into an irrigation ditch. The Dodge Caravan landed upside down with the windshield facing down on the opposite side of the irrigation canal and against the bank of the canal.  
Agents requested local emergency medical services via radio and approached the Dodge Caravan and shouted commands but received no response from the driver. Agents attempted to open the driver’s-side door to remove the driver but were unsuccessful. Agents then broke out the vehicle’s windows and observed the driver unconscious and pinned inside the vehicle between the dash and floorboard. Because the agents could not get into the vehicle, they were unable to provide medical aid.  
At approximately 11:56 a.m., Imperial County Fire and an American Medical Response ambulance arrived on scene. A short time later, the driver was pronounced deceased. At approximately 1:14 p.m., the Imperial County Medical Examiner arrived on scene and assumed custody of the driver’s body. 
At the scene of the collision, an agent involved in the pursuit reported to a supervisor and other agents that, while following the white Dodge Caravan, the agent saw the driver throw what appeared to be a baggie out of the window, near the intersection of Heber Road and SR 7.  
Agents seized a handgun from the scene of the collision, and a baggie containing suspected narcotics was discovered near the intersection of Heber Road and SR 7.  
California Highway Patrol and the Medical Examiner are currently investigating this incident, and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing the incident. The Department of Homeland Security was notified of the incident.  
In accordance with the May 25, 2022, Executive Order on Advancing Effective Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety, CBP is committed to expeditiously releasing the body worn camera footage of this incident as soon as is appropriate to do so and without impacting the ongoing law enforcement investigations. CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board will review this incident at the conclusion of the investigation. 

This notification is being issued to the public pursuant to the CBP policy regarding Notification and Review Procedures for Certain Deaths and Deaths in Custody  and the Department of Homeland Security FY 2021 Appropriation (H. Rept. 116-458) reporting requirements related to CBP involved deaths. 

Last Modified: Mar 22, 2024