Identities of Victims in Brownsville Fatal Released

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BROWNSVILLE – At least two people died following an accident on the Frontage Road in Brownsville.

The crash happened before 3 p.m. Monday in front of the Sunrise Plaza Mall.

Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez said two people, 84-year-old Santiago Zarate and 59-year-old Maria del Carmen Mares, died. A third person escaped without serious injuries.

The Morrison Road exit going northbound remained closed as Brownsville police and fire crews worked to clear the area. The turnaround coming from south Frontage Road on Ruben Torres was also closed to traffic. 

Police were able to gather witnesses’ accounts since it’s a highly trafficked area.

Rodriguez said a SUV was towing a small car using a rope. The rope gave away as they were traveling through the congested area. The vehicles came to a complete stop on the left lane of Frontage Road along I-69E/US 77.

The man driving the SUV and woman driving the small car got out of their vehicles and tried to secure rope back on.

Rodriguez said that’s when they believe a pickup truck driving northbound struck the pair from behind and pinned them between the vehicles. Authorities said the driver told them he was trying to merge into the expressway. 

The male driver of the pickup truck was not seriously injured.

Police said they reconstructed the scene to gather more information.

It’s unclear where the car was being towed or where it was headed. Rodriguez said when pulling a car, a rope should only be used in a very extreme circumstance and only for a very short distance. 

"Something that gives you a secure way of towing. A rope is not a safe way to tow a vehicle, especially in a frontage road area or expressway area. It's extremely dangerous as you can see what happened today," he warned. "There's no such thing as towing with a white flag to bring attention to cross traffic, but we're talking about surface streets, side streets. We're not talking about a busy area like frontage road near an expressway."

The investigation into the crash is ongoing. 


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