BISBEE — Two people — undocumented individuals from Mexico — were killed Tuesday night in the traffic circle in Bisbee after the vehicle they were riding in overturned and passengers were ejected.
Seconds before the crash, the black Ford pickup that the deceased were riding in, along with a Jeep Commander sport utility vehicle also filled with Mexican nationals, had been racing west at speeds exceeding 100 mph on State Route 80 in an attempt to get away from Border Patrol agents, Bisbee police and possibly troopers from the Department of Public Safety.
Bisbee Police Deputy Chief Christopher Long said a Bisbee officer saw the Ford truck and the Jeep as they passed him heading west on SR80, Tuesday night.
“The Bisbee Police officer noted that the two vehicles were traveling at speeds over 100 miles per hour,” Long said in a press release Thursday afternoon. “At this point the officer was traveling eastbound on Highway 80. The officer radioed to other Bisbee officers what he was observing. As the suspect vehicles passed the officer, he turned his patrol vehicle around, activated his emergency lights/siren and also began to head westbound.”
Long said a second officer who was positioned further west on SR80 then “became involved in the pursuit of the vehicle.”
He said the drivers of both suspect vehicles continued at a high rate of speed when they entered the traffic circle.
“At approximately 9:01pm, as the vehicles entered the ‘Traffic Circle’ in Bisbee, one of the vehicles, a 2016 F-150, lost control and rolled,” Long said. “The occupants were ejected from the vehicle. The other suspect vehicle exited onto Highway 92 and began to head westbound. Bisbee Police officers and other law enforcement officers secured the crash scene, called for Bisbee medics to respond and began to render aid to the occupants of that vehicle.”
The incident started in Douglas just after 8:30 p.m., when an off-duty Border Patrol agent spotted the Mexican nationals piling into the Jeep and the Ford truck, a Border Patrol spokesman said. The off-duty agent notified the Douglas Border Patrol Station about the vehicles heading west on State Route 80 and an on-duty agent attempted to stop them with lights and sirens activated.
When the drivers of the two vehicles did not stop, the Border Patrol agent notified Bisbee Police, the Department of Public Safety and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office for assistance, the Border Patrol spokesman said.
The Border Patrol agent lost sight of the vehicles, but did see another law enforcement agency’s car get behind them and try to stop them to no avail.
“As agents continued north, they were informed a vehicle crash had had occurred involving the Ford truck,” the Border Patrol spokesman said.
The Sheriff’s Office, which was assisting at the crash scene with traffic control, reported on its Facebook page that two people had been killed after the Ford flipped over, landing on its side at the roundabout.
The Border Patrol spokesman said the driver of the Jeep took off after the Ford crashed, but was later stopped by other Border Patrol agents. Long said the driver of the Jeep and the passengers bolted from the SUV, but were later caught by Border Patrol agents and taken into custody.
Six passengers from the overturned Ford truck were taken to Copper Queen Community Hospital in Bisbee. Two of the six died at the hospital, Long said. A third member of that group was airlifted to a Tucson hospital’s trauma center.
It’s not clear how many undocumented people were in the Jeep.
The driver of the Ford pickup, identified as William Browan, 26, of Mesa, was arrested and charged with two counts of second degree murder, five counts of endangerment and one count of unlawful flight from pursuing law enforcement.
Long said the case remains under investigation.