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DPS identifies victims who died in I-10 wreck near Picacho

Picacho Peak Crash
Posted at 10:18 AM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 17:16:03-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Arizona Department of Public Safety identified three people who died in a wreck near Picacho April 21.

The victims were 22-year-old Alexis Miguel Fuentes De La Cruz, 36-year-old Omar Ortiz-Ramirez and 39-year-old Raúl Carranza-Alonso. All three are Mexican nationals.

Kevin Avila, an 18-year-old from Phoenix, drove an SUV that carried the victims and several other passengers in a suspected human trafficking operation. He faces charges in Pinal County including homicide, endangerment and aggravated asault.

Five people from the SUV were airlifted to hospitals. One victim is still hospitalized.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, eight people were in an SUV that a DPS trooper tried to stop near milepost 214. Avila, the driver, didn't stop, and troopers pursued it. The SUV crossed a dirt median into eastbound lanes and hit a tractor-trailer head-on.

The driver of the truck was released from the hospital.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the wreck was at milepost 213.

Westbound lanes were not affected for several hours, but were closed by 2 p.m. Thursday.

Deadly wreck shuts down eastbound I-10 in both directions Thursday

According to United States Homeland Security Investigations, the SUV was part of an attempted human smuggling operation.

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Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star, where he was a movie critic, columnist, and reporter. He has penned three books: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, Stormin' Mormon and Zeta Male. A University of Arizona business graduate, he has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing phil.villarreal@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.