3 illegal immigrants killed in Wilson County crash

10 found alive after SUV crashes into stock tank on ranch near Poth

Published On: Feb 06 2013 08:41:43 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 06 2013 08:40:30 AM CST

Divers recovered the bodies of three male illegal immigrants in a stock tank on a Wilson County ranch Wednesday afternoon.

The immigrants were among 13 that were stuffed in a Chevrolet Tahoe that led a sheriff's deputy on a chase before it crashed into the nine-feet-deep pond on FM 427 near Poth at 4 a.m., said Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt.

"We've had a lot of pursuits of illegals, but we've never had one end up like this," Tackitt said.

Three of the immigrants that were found alive were discovered on the roof of the vehicle and one in the dam of the tank, Tackitt said. Six others sought help at a nearby ranch.

"These people ... are coming over to make a better life for themselves," Tackitt said. "And even though they're here illegally, it's tragic they have to end their lives this way."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said ICE agents are interviewing the immigrants to find out their country of origin and how they got into the United States.

"We understand some of the survivors are from Guatemala but we could have other nationalities represented as well," she said.

Pruneda said the case has the makings of a human smuggling case.

"Our Homeland Security Investigations special agents continue to interview those in custody at the county jail," she said. "We are trying to determine who was responsible for this horrific incident."

Tackitt said he doesn't expect this latest incident to be the last Wilson County will see.

"There will be others, I'm sure, but nothing this drastic," he said.

Raw video from Sky12 over stock tank

Raw Video: Sky12 over Wilson Co. stock tank