Eight dead in Utah SUV crash | AspenTimes.com

Eight dead in Utah SUV crash

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
In this photo released by the Utah Highway Patrol, a SUV lies along the side of Highway 191 approximately 15 miles south of Blanding, Utah, Monday, April 16, 2007, after killing 8 men in the four corners area of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The vehicle, carrying 15 people, rolled several times when the driver swerved to miss an animal. Those in the SUV are believed to be illegal immigrants from Mexico. Federal immigration agents are investigating. (AP Photo/Utah Highway Patrol, Trooper Charles Taylor)

BLUFF, Utah ” A sport utility vehicle believed to be carrying illegal immigrants rolled several times Monday in southeastern Utah’s San Juan County, killing eight men, authorities said.

Federal immigration agents were investigating it as a possible case of human trafficking, said Trooper Preston Raban, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety.

One of the injured was in critical condition, hours after the 3:30 a.m. MDT crash in a remote area near the Four Corners area of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, Raban said.

The Chevy Suburban carrying 15 people was registered to an owner in Mesa, Ariz., but driven by a 30-year-old man from Mexico, he said.

“It appears at this time that many of the occupants were not related and were not associated with one another in any way prior to this incident,” Raban said.

The driver was trying to avoid an animal when the SUV rolled on U.S. 191, said Lt. Todd Peterson of the Utah Highway Patrol.

He fled the scene but was found hiding in the desert about two miles away. He was being held at the San Juan County jail.

Sheriff Mike Lacy said his investigators estimate the vehicle rolled about five times.

The Mexican consulate and federal immigration officials were working to identify the victims and notify their relatives, Raban said.

The injured were taken to hospitals in Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, Raban said.

On Oct. 11, 2005, a van loaded with 16 people, all but one in the U.S. illegally, rolled on U.S. 191 near Moab, killing two. The driver was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

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