Mission teen charged in deadly weekend crash
An 18-year-old has been charged after an alleged human smuggling attempt over the weekend ended in a crash that killed a mother and daughter from Mission and injured six undocumented immigrants.
Esteban Cantu Jr., 18, of Mission was charged upon his release from a local hospital.
Police say on Saturday morning, Cantu Jr. was transporting six undocumented immigrants in a gray 2009 Ford Escape SUV when he failed to yield to a U.S. Border Patrol unit attempting to conduct a traffic stop at Conway and U.S. Interstate 2 Frontage Road, according to a news release from the Mission Police department.
During the pursuit, the SUV collided with a 2014 Honda passenger vehicle at the intersection of West Mile 2 Line and Holland Road. The Honda was occupied by Carmen Huerta Sosa, 59, and her 22-year-old daughter, Viridiana Charon Lloyd.
“The collision caused the death of both Ms. Sosa and her daughter, Viridiana,” the release stated. “[Cantu Jr.] and all six undocumented immigrants were transported to local hospitals for treatment.”
Following the crash, a local police chief said its time to re-evaluate the protocols surrounding police chases.
"If people are getting hurt, especially innocent people, perhaps we need to take a look at that,” Pharr police Chief Andy Harvey said. He added that his department considers several factors in their training such as traffic, the weather and time of day - as well as other things like if there are children or other people around.
“It's not just the people that we’re pursuing,” Chief Harvey said. “It's not about their safety or the police officer’s safety, it's the community at large."
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers assisted in the chase. Spokesman Lt. Christopher Olivarez said scenarios like these are not rare. He said troopers make decisions in the field on what they feel is the best choice.
“They have the discretion to either disengage or call off the pursuit just based on the circumstances that are taking place.” Olivarez said.
Cantu Jr. was charged with two counts of murder, a first-degree felony; evading arrest causing death, a second-degree felony; six counts of smuggling of persons, a second-degree felony; and six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony.
Bond was set at $2.3 million.