By Ron Maloney
Published July 31, 2008
SEGUIN — Officials were looking Wednesday for the driver of a stolen pickup truck in which a 25-year-old Mexican man was killed late Tuesday in an accident that ended a police chase on State Highway 46.
Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer, Trooper Travis Hall, said that Mexican national Salvador Soto-Rosas was killed in a single-vehicle crash in a cornfield off Rudeloff Road.
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Larry Morawietz pronounced him dead at the scene of major injuries at 1:20 a.m.
Hall said Seguin DPS Trooper Jason Nolen was on patrol just before midnight Tuesday when he saw a 2003 Ford F-350 northbound on State Highway 46, just south of Rudeloff road.
“The trooper attempted to stop the driver on a traffic violation and the driver fled,” Hall said. “The driver entered a cultivated hay field, continued through the field and crossed over Rudeloff Road into a corn field.”
In the second field, the truck slammed into a large drainage ditch and Soto-Rosas, who was riding in the bed of the pickup, died when the force of the impact slammed him into the back of its cab.
Nolen was not injured in the chase, Hall said.
Officials sought the driver and others who might have been in the truck, but no one was found, Hall said.
“The driver of the pickup fled on foot and was not apprehended,” Hall said. “It was pitch dark out there.”
The pickup truck had been reported stolen, Hall said, but he did not know where it had been taken from.
The chase was the second in Seguin on Tuesday involving a reportedly stolen truck, and is the most recent in a series of incidents in recent months in which local law enforcement officers have chased trucks.
Tuesday morning, Sheriff’s Investigator Bobby Bailey and other deputies chased a young Hispanic male in a stolen Dodge pickup that was destroyed when the driver slammed into a tree across a field off State Highway 123 Bypass.
The driver of that vehicle escaped after the crash because deputies in police cruisers were unable to keep up on rough ground.
Seguin police have had similar recent chases as well, local officials say.
In some of the cases the stolen trucks are involved in human smuggling or trafficking.
Seguin Police Detective Lt. Johnny San Miguel said pressure to secure the Mexico border has led to increased profits for human smugglers, called “coyotes,” who are paid upwards of $1,000 to $1,500 or more per head to move illegal immigrants.
“It’s considered safer and can be more profitable than smuggling drugs,” San Miguel said.
Bailey is assigned by Sheriff Arnold Zwicke to the Sheriff’s Combined Auto Theft Task Force. Like DPS troopers, Bailey is familiar with chases involving stolen vehicles or undocumented immigrants.
In one last year involving both sheriff’s deputies and DPS troopers, 10 people riding in a pickup were injured near the site of the former Interstate 10 rest area in eastern Guadalupe County after the truck they were in slammed into a tree. That incident, like most involving illegal immigrants, involved a stolen truck.
“They run from us nine out of 10 times because they can plow through brush,” Bailey said. “A Crown Vic has more trouble following through brush or sand.”