William Thompson:Quay County Sun
A woman died Tuesday when a pickup truck packed with illegal immigrants from Mexico rolled over twice on U.S. 54 near Quay Road AI, officials said.
New Mexico State Police said the male driver and two females fled the scene and were still at large on Friday.
The male driver, possibly from Mexico, is about 25 with a long ponytail and acne on his face. He and the two females were last seen Tuesday night running east on U.S. 54, police said.
The passengers in the pickup said they had paid $1,400 each to be transported into the U.S. and were on their way to Atlanta, according to a state police press release.
The driver lost control driving over railroad tracks parallel to U.S. 54 about 10:30 p.m. The truck rolled over and a camper shell on the truck broke off and all 12 occupants in the truck bed were ejected, according to the release. One woman in the cab of the pickup was also injured.
A Mexican passenger, Claudia Angeles Juarez, 31, died at the scene.
Five ambulances transported 13 passengers to Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital, according to Tucumcari’s Deputy Fire Chief Larry Rigdon.
“We had three ambulances from Tucumcari and two from Logan,” Rigdon said. “Two of the ambulances had to return to the scene to finish getting everyone transported.”
Rigdon said the patients were too dazed to try to escape if that had been their intention.
“We had everything from severe traumatic injuries to minor scrapes,” Rigdon said. “We had a hard time communicating with them, but fortunately there were people at the hospital who could speak Spanish.”
Bo Beames, administrator for Trigg Hospital, said extra emergency room staff had to be called in.
“We had to call in six to eight staff members,” Beames said.
“We were able to handle the situation. I cannot comment on the condition of the patients. They have been in contact with the Mexican consulate in Albuquerque.”
Mexican Consul Juan Solana said the Mexican consulate will offer the patients free transportation back to their homes in Mexico once the hospital has released them.
“If any of the patients refuse our help then there is nothing else we at the consulate can do for them,” Solana said.
“Once we offer transportation, that is where our responsibility ends.”
State police Public Information Officer Lt. Jimmy Glascock said state police are not responsible for the patients once they are released from the hospital.
“They are not suspects or charged with a crime,” Glascock said. “We have contacted the U.S. Border Patrol and it is up to them what they will do. Two patients were released Wednesday and the U.S. Border patrol took them into custody in Quay County.”
Officials from the U.S. Border Patrol could not be reached for comment.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is actively trying to find the driver of the pickup, said Leticia Zamarripa, a spokesperson for the agency.
“The main priority of our agency right now is to look for the smuggler,” Zamarripa said.