Austin man could face death penalty for crash that killed 8 migrants in March

Pretrial hearing held in Del Rio Federal courtroom

Debris is strewn across a road near the border city of Del Rio, Texas after a collision Monday, March 15, 2021. Eight people in a pickup truck loaded with immigrants were killed when the vehicle collided with an SUV following a police chase, authorities said. (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP)
Debris is strewn across a road near the border city of Del Rio, Texas after a collision Monday, March 15, 2021. Eight people in a pickup truck loaded with immigrants were killed when the vehicle collided with an SUV following a police chase, authorities said. (Texas Department of Public Safety via AP) (Texas Department of Public Safety)

DEL RIO, Texas – A quick pretrial hearing took place in Del Rio Thursday morning for an Austin man accused in a deadly crash that killed eight undocumented immigrants.

Sebastian Tovar, 24, is charged with “transporting illegal aliens resulting in death” for the March 15 crash.

Eight people died in the crash and three others suffered severe injuries.

According to the federal complaint, Tovar was traveling north on Highway 277 on Monday in a maroon pickup truck near Del Rio, Texas, when a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper attempted to stop him for speeding. Following an approximately 50-mile pursuit that reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour, Tovar collided head-on with another pickup.

Tovar appeared virtually in front of U.S. District Magistrate Judge Victor Garcia in Del Rio.

Garcia stated that since Tovar had recently obtained attorney Ray Meza that a bond hearing would take place no later than April 12th and as early as next week.

Until that bond hearing, Tovar will remain in custody.

If convicted of the charges, Tovar faces a sentence of up to life in prison or the death penalty.

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About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.