Lyndsay WinkleyContact Reporter
February 26, 2017

Nine people were injured, one critically, when an SUV driven by a suspected human smuggler crashed Sunday while being chased by Border Patrol agents near Lake Morena in East County.

The agents tried to pull over the Chevrolet Trailblazer, which was headed east on state Route 94 in the Campo area, about 11:40 a.m., said Mark Endicott, a supervisory Border Patrol agent for the San Diego sector.

The driver sped off and crashed into a boulder about 15 minutes later off Lake Morena Drive near the entrance to Lake Morena County Park. The SUV was the only vehicle involved in the crash.

All nine people inside were hurt. Two people suffered minor injuries, six were moderately injured and one person was in critical condition, Cal Fire Capt. Issac Sanchez said. He didn’t know whether it was the driver or a passenger who was seriously hurt.

Officials suspect the driver, a U.S. citizen, was smuggling his passengers into the country, Endicott said. All of the passengers were adult, Mexican nationals who were in the U.S. illegally. No one in the crash was identified.

“This incident is a sad example of how human smugglers show utter disregard for human life in order to profit from criminal activity,” Endicott said in a statement.

Federal officials didn’t say why Border Patrol agents tried to stop the vehicle.