A U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed Saturday when he was struck by a fleeing vehicle along the border in southeastern California, agency officials said.
The agent was trying to stop a vehicle that had illegally entered the country from Mexico when he was hit, said agent Eric Anderson, a spokesman for the agency's Yuma sector. The incident happened in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area about 20 miles west of Yuma at about 9 a.m.
Details of the incident are still under investigation and Anderson said he didn't know if any suspects had been caught. The agent's name is being withheld until relatives have been notified.
"The agent attempted to impede their progress," Anderson said. "We don't really know what happened then - he was either struck or run over by the vehicle, which resulted in the loss of one of our agent's lives."
Witnesses told the Yuma Sun newspaper that agents were chasing a
Hummer and a Ford pickup on Interstate 8 when the vehicles turned
into the dunes and fled toward Mexico. The agent was trying to place spike strips in their path and was struck by the Hummer.
The Imperial Sand Dunes are the largest dunes in California, extending north of the border for 40 miles and averaging five miles wide.
The area is popular with off-road vehicle enthusiasts but also is frequently used by smugglers trying to bring people or drugs into the country from Mexico.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)