Kid Charged in Grisly Crash That Killed 9 Immigrants
15-year-old said he drove the van because his family had been threatened
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 16, 2012 3:34 PM CDT
A mini van lays on the edge of the road on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the scene of Tuesday's deadly wreck involving a van carrying suspected illegal immigrants in Palmview, Texas.   (AP Photo/The Monitor, Joel Martinez)

(Newser) – A 15-year-old South Texas boy has been charged with nine counts of murder after a van he was driving crashed, killing nine of the suspected illegal immigrants packed inside. The boy appeared at a probable cause hearing today, where he was also charged with 17 counts of smuggling a person, among other things. Border Patrol agents had stopped the van last Tuesday, when some of the passengers sprinted away. Agents pursued them on foot, catching one. As the foot chase unfolded, the van sped off.

The agents came across the wreck three or four blocks away, in a grisly scene strewn with bodies, backpacks, and water bottles, Border Patrol said. All of those killed were Mexican citizens; an investigation led to the discovery of a stash house where dozens of illegal immigrants were located. The boy told investigators he drove the van because his family had been threatened. "You could tell that he wanted to come clean," the police chief said.