PHOENIX (Reuters) - A sport utility vehicle carrying seven suspected illegal immigrants was hit head-on by another car on an Arizona highway, killing eight people, state police said on Thursday.
Three other people were seriously injured in the collision on Wednesday when a Chevrolet Suburban, containing seven immigrants and two U.S. citizens, was hit by a Buick passenger vehicle near Florence, Arizona, about 125 miles (200 km) from the border, a police spokesman said.
The state Department of Public Safety earlier had reported nine people were killed in the accident.
It was not immediately clear whether the SUV was involved in any smuggling activity, said department spokesman Quentin Mehr. He did not know if the driver of the other vehicle was impaired or if anyone was wearing seat belts.
“This is a very complex investigation and the investigation is still ongoing,” Mehr said.
The driver, front-seat passenger and four of the seven illegal immigrants in the sport utility vehicle were killed, he said. Three other passengers were taken to the hospital, one with life-threatening injuries.
Both occupants of the other vehicle were killed, Mehr said.
The collision, about 60 miles (100 km) southeast of Phoenix, shut down the highway for roughly six hours.
Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker