Woman found dead in car died from heat-related causes, officials say

05:44 PM MST on Friday, July 22, 2005

Arizona Daily Star

A woman found dead in a car on Interstate 10 died from heat-related causes, officials said Friday.

Police said an autopsy revealed that Maria Velasco-Bautista's death was not suspicious, said Sgt. Kerry Fuller, a Tucson Police Department spokeswoman. Velasco-Bautista, 21, of Oaxaca, Mexico, had crossed into the United States illegally.

She was found dead in the back seat of a Mercury Cougar on I-10 near Prince Road when an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer stopped to offer help with a tire around 7:40 a.m., police said at the time.

The car was propped on a jack, and a wheel was lying in the median.

Also found in the trunk of the car was a man, also an illegal entrant, who was still alive.

He was taken to a hospital, treated for heat exposure and turned over to the Border Patrol, said Officer Lisa Peasley, a police spokeswoman, on Monday.

The man told authorities he had crossed the border Sunday with a group of people and had stayed in the car when it stopped on Interstate 10, police said. Authorities weren't sure how long he had been in the trunk.

The man said he did not know the woman who died, Peasley said.

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©The Arizona Daily Star, 2005