July 1, 2020

Two eyewitness accounts of the deadly car crash in Downtown El Paso conflict with what law enforcement officials have said about the events prior to the accident that killed seven and left three with serious injuries.

Border Patrol officials had said agents initially pursued a vehicle believed to be transporting undocumented immigrants, but broke off the chase after it reached dangerously high speeds heading into Downtown El Paso. They said the driver who evaded agents bears sole responsibility for the deaths.

Wilmer Gomez Gomez of Guatemala was one of 10 people in the vehicle that violently struck a trailer on Paisano Avenue at about 2:15 a.m. on June 25. Twenty-five-year-old Gomez, who survived the crash, said he remembers being pursued by approximately seven Border Patrol vehicles. “They were chasing us, they never stopped chasing us,” Gomez said.

In an interview with El Paso Matters, Gomez recounted that when he got into the car, a Border Patrol vehicle was nearby, blocking the gray Chevrolet Cruze. Gomez said that the Border Patrol vehicle moved out of the way, letting the Cruze pass, before it and other Border Patrol vehicles began chasing them. Gomez said he and a group of five others were picked up by the car; Border Patrol officials said three undocumented immigrants were in the vehicle, but police on Wednesday said five of the people in the vehicle were Guatemalans.

Source: El Paso Matters, “Witnesses say Border Patrol chased car moments before it crashed, killing 7”, July 2020. <https://elpasomatters.org/2020/07/01/witnesses-say-border-patrol-chased-car-moments-before-it-crashed-killing-7/>

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status: No steps taken