KARNES CITY, Texas -- A small county booming with Eagle Ford Shale traffic is now noticing with increased traffic of a different kind. The Karnes County Sheriff says they're dealing with a rise of deadly car accidents involving undocumented immigrants.
One-third of the nine people killed in car crashes this year were undocumented and the biggest accident in the area in recent history involved 19 undocumented men, women and juveniles.
Sheriff David Jalufka says a truck driver discovered the accident early in the morning April 21 on FM 792.
"These people came from somewhere and they hit a humongous pot hole on top of the hill, lost control and rolled the vehicle three times," he said. "There's people in the bar ditches, people laying in the road. When we got there, we started air-lifting people out of there."
Two people died at the scene, five were flown to San Antonio hospitals and five others were taken to a local hospital. Three people ran away. According to Sheriff Jalufka one of the women was wanted for murder in California.
Another undocumented man died in a truck crash Monday morning on FM 626. Sheriff Jalufka said a man discovered the truck on his property that morning and the man's body was next to the vehicle. Deputies believe there were others in the truck with them who may have left in another vehicle. Sheriff Jalufka believes that crash also happened in the middle of the night.
He says deputies used to be involved in about one chase per month with undocumented immigrants. However, his deputies were getting more training Thursday because of the increase in the number of incidents.
At the end of April, deputies captured 11 immigrants after a short chase on FM 626 but five escaped.
"They're going to these back roads. We have some of the best smuggling routes in the state of Texas to get to Houston," he said. The Sheriff says he believes the immigrants were passing through to another destination, not staying in the area.
He now has deputies patrolling around the clock because of the increased illegal traffic and the increased number of trucks on the road because of the Eagle Ford Shale. However, the constant 18-wheeler traffic is causing roads to crumble, which can create a dangerous situation for deputies involved in a pursuit, Sheriff Jalufka said.
"Because the roads are in such bad condition, either they are going to be wrecked out or we're going to wreck out trying to chase them," he said.
Deputies have to call for assistance from other deputies or law enforcement agencies, rather than pursue suspects on a dangerous road, he said.