The same day the Washington, D.C. mayor pleaded for National Guard troops to handle the “crisis” her city is experiencing from undocumented migrants, a fatal vehicle accident near Interstate 10 in Benson shut down one of southeast Arizona’s key roadways for several hours due to yet another human smuggling effort.
Mayor Muriel Bowser was upbraided July 28 by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey after she complained about 4,000 or so migrants in the nation’s capital. Ducey pointed out Arizona dealt with more than 10 times that number in June alone, not counting thousands more illegal border crossers who were not apprehended due to a lack of federal resources.
Then just hours after Ducey’s comments, law enforcement agencies and emergency medical responders were on scene of a deadly two-vehicle accident one block south of the I-10 interchange with State Route 90, the key route to Sierra Vista and the border.
According to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, deputies attempted a traffic stop of a white Ford Expedition on Davis Road near Tombstone around 1:15 p.m. The driver of the Ford failed to yield and began travelling at speeds over 100 miles per hour, forcing the deputy to end the effort due to safety concerns.
An “attempt to locate” the vehicle was put out by the deputy to surrounding law enforcement agencies. A sighting was made shortly after 3 p.m. when the vehicle was spotted several miles to the west, heading north on SR90 toward I-10.
The Ford was still traveling at speeds estimated over 100 miles per hour, prompting law enforcement personnel to deploy tire deflation devices a few blocks south of the Interstate. Unfortunately, the driver of the Ford -later identified as a Tucson woman in her 20’s- failed once again to stop, eventually crashing into a white SUV at a controlled intersection.
The Ford driver was removed from the vehicle with serious injuries and airlifted to a Tucson hospital where she remains in critical condition. A male passenger trapped in the Ford died at the scene, while two undocumented immigrants in the Ford were injured.
The SUV driver and a passenger also suffered injuries which required their transportation to a hospital for treatment. No medical update has been provided by Arizona Department of Public Safety as of press time.
Thursday’s fatal accident is just the latest serious crash the last 18 months involving drivers engaging in human smuggling. The additional responses are overtaxing the resources of law enforcement, first responders, and medical facilities.
Which makes last week’s comment by another Washington, D.C. official that their city’s situation is “unsustainable” particularly upsetting to those living along and protecting the southwest border.
Like Ducey, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office also hit back at Bowser last Thursday, noting that Washington, D.C. finally sees what states like Arizona and Texas “have been dealing with every single day, as our communities are overrun and overwhelmed by thousands of illegal immigrants” since President Joe Biden’s open border policies began in January 2021.
“If the mayor wants a solution to this crisis, she should call on President Biden to take immediate action to secure the border — something he has failed to do,” Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze added.
Bowser’s request for National Guard deployment in Washington, D.C. requires Presidential approval. The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III received the mayor’s request and is taking it “very seriously.”
The fatal accident in Benson and the call for National Guard troops in the capital also came the day U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced he was authorizing funding to complete a critical section of the border wall at the Morelos Dam in Yuma.
No date was provided for undertaking the construction which will close four gaps in an area along the swift moving Colorado River. However, Mayorkas’ statement implies it won’t be any time soon.
“Prior to construction, DHS will engage in standard environmental planning and conduct stakeholder outreach and consultation,” the announcement states. “DHS will move as expeditiously as possible, while still maintaining environmental stewardship.”
A U.S. Border Patrol agent patrolling in Cochise County suffered several cuts after being assaulted trying to take an undocumented immigrant into custody Wednesday morning, leading to at least one shot being fired from a USBP-issued gun, Arizona Daily Independent has learned.
It remains unclear whether the gun was fired by the injured agent, another agent, or the “combative subject” as John B. Mennell, a CBP spokesman called the person the agent was trying to apprehend.
“Neither the subject nor the agent was seriously injured during the assault,” Mennell wrote in a statement Thursday. “The case remains under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation who will provide additional details as appropriate.”
Very little is known about the assault which sent nearly two dozen law enforcement and public safety vehicles to the Coronado National Monument south of State Route 92 around 5 a.m. when USBP agents encountered a small group of people suspected of illegally entering the United States.
The agent’s injuries reportedly involved cuts or stabs on the hands and face, and were not life-threatening, according to Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office. The agent was taken from the scene for emergency medical care; no statement has been issued by CBP, USBP, or the FBI as to the agent’s condition.
About 24 hours after the attack, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels took to the airways to bitterly criticize the Biden Administration and the leadership of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the unsafe conditions for residents of his county and the heightened dangers to law enforcement personnel.
Dannels told KFYI radio host James T. Harris that the attack on the USBP agent was just the latest incident of escalating violence. There was recently an assault on another USBP agent, as well as a local officer, and one of Dannels’ own deputies, he told Harris.
“It’s not getting better. In fact, just the opposite and we’ve been talking on this, preaching on this, for the last year,” Dannels said. “I’ll just say this – the failed leadership by this president and this administration to recognize, secure our border, secure our communities, and secure our country is devasting to us right now.”
The agent was attacked near Montezuma Canyon, which lies a few miles west of the USBP Brian A. Terry Station in Naco. Agents assigned to that station are among the 3,800 employees of the USBP’s Tucson Sector.
It would not be until 5 p.m. that FBI spokeswoman Brooke Brennan issued a short statement confirming the agency was conducting the investigation. At 6:30 p.m., Brennan issued a one-sentence supplement advising local residents there was no threat to the public.
However, several first responders familiar with the incident have told Arizona Daily Independent the “all-clear” notice could have been provided hours earlier. This would have relieved the worries of several local residents and tourists in the area.
Even USBP Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin ignored the assault on his agent. Modlin was active on social media throughout Wednesday but never bothered to address the morning incident. But he did have time to share a video of a May 2021 rescue of a migrant in California.
CBP recently acknowledged more than 1.7 million people were “encountered” or arrested at the U.S. southwest border in 2021. That figure does not include whistleblowers’ accounts among USBP agents as well as public comments from officials like Dannels of several thousands of migrants who escape arrest.
While USBP agents were dealing with the attack in southern Cochise County, agents with the USBP Yuma Sector were meeting with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In his radio comments Thursday, Dannels told Harris that the Western States Sheriffs’ Association has taken a position of “no confidence” in Mayorkas.
The association, which represents the 17 contiguous states west of the Mississippi River, issued a declaration in November calling on President Joe Biden to replace Mayorkas with someone “who will work with our federal enforcement partners and the administration to restore security and safety on our nation’s southern border.”