A suspected drug smuggler died Saturday night after being thrown from the car he was driving while trying to elude U.S. Border Patrol agents north of Lukeville.
The events leading up to the fatal crash began about 7 p.m. Saturday when agents working near the Lukeville port of entry spotted a car being loaded with marijuana on the Arizona side, said Rob Daniels, Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman. They informed agents working further north in the town of Why, who saw the car turn east on Arizona 86 into the town of Gunsight, he said.
Agents tried to stop the 2000 Jeep Cherokee but the driver, a 29-year-old Mexican man, raced away. He drove back west on Arizona 86 toward Why. As he approached the intersection of Arizona 86 and Arizona 85, he slowed down to about 25 miles per hour and a pregnant woman came barreling out of the jeep, Daniels said.
The driver continued south on Arizona 85 toward Lukeville.
The woman, a 31-year-old member of the Tohono O’odham Reservation, later told agents that the man had pushed her out of the car.
The pursuit continued southbound on Arizona 85 until agents threw down tire spikes in the road, forcing the man to swerze. When he swerved, the Jeep rolled and the man was thrown from the vehicle, Daniels said.
Paramedics from the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Border Patrol treated the man until a medical helicopter arrived. The helicopter had to stop and land at least once to resuscitate the man and continue.
He was pronounced dead before reaching the hospital, Daniels said.
The man had a criminal history that included an armed robbery with a weapon in 2000 that triggered his deportation that year, he said. He also had various other drug related offenses. Agents found 300 pounds of marijuana in and around the Jeep, Daniels said.
The pregnant woman was flown by helicopter to Maricopa County Medical Center where she is in stable condition and under observation.