Three men riding in the trunk of a car during an apparent human-smuggling attempt in the East County highlands were injured today -- one seriously -- when the driver crashed the sedan at high speed while trying to evade the U.S. Border Patrol.
The 18-year-old driver of the orange Mazda 6 sped off when federal personnel directed him into a secondary inspection area at a USBP checkpoint on Interstate 8 in Pine Valley about 11:45 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.
Border Patrol agents gave chase, tailing the car to the west as the young man fled at speeds exceeding 100 mph, CHP public-affairs Officer Travis Garrow said.
Near state Route 79, the suspect lost control of the sedan while trying to use the southern shoulder of I-8 to pass slower-moving traffic. The Mazda veered off the north side of the freeway, struck a wooden post and tumbled down a grassy embankment, overturning on the way down before coming to rest on its wheels.
One of the occupants of the trunk, a 31-year-old man, was ejected during the crash and was badly hurt, Garrow said. The other two, ages 27 and 19, suffered moderately serious injuries. Medics took all three to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego.
The driver, who escaped the wreck unscathed, was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents, Garrow said. The suspect's name was not immediately released.
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