3 dead after Border Patrol chase ends in crash

An SUV being chased by U.S. Border Patrol agents smashed through a guard rail and hurtled into a ravine off a San Diego freeway, killing three of the vehicle's occupants and injuring a fourth, authorities said Friday.

The chase started after two agents on routine patrol ran the license plate of the GMC Envoy Thursday after and were told that the vehicle was associated with a possibly armed man suspected of murder and human smuggling, the agency said in a statement.

When agents signaled to the SUV to pull over on busy Interstate 15, the driver took off.

About 10 minutes later, the driver appeared to lose control and the SUV smashed through a guardrail and chain-link fence before rolling down an embankment, the California Highway Patrol said.

Two people died at the scene, and a third died at a hospital. A fourth occupant was seriously injured.

No names, nationalities or other details about the victims have been released. It's not clear whether the murder suspect was in the SUV at the time. Authorities would not elaborate on the suspect's identity or offenses.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in San Diego said they did not have information Friday beyond the statement stating the basic facts.

Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Mark Endicott told The San Diego Union-Tribune that agents are "highly skilled and highly trained and develop a reasonable amount of suspicion before attempting a vehicle stop."

Border Patrol policy states agents can only chase vehicles when the benefit outweighs any immediate danger of such pursuits, according to the newspaper.

The policy was overhauled in the 1990s after a Border Patrol chase in California's Riverside County ended in a deadly crash near a high school. Four students and a father who was driving his son to school were killed.

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