Authorities Try To Identify 15 Victims Of Deadly Texas Pickup Truck Crash

The pickup crashed into trees in Goliad County. (DPS photo)

McALLEN (July 24, 2012)--Investigators Tuesday continued the difficult task of trying to identify 15 suspected illegal immigrants who were killed when a pickup truck crammed with nearly two-dozen people crashed in South Texas during what evidently was a smuggling run.

The 15th death was confirmed Tuesday.

Investigators are also looking for clues about who else might have been involved in the operations.

The men, women and children were carrying toothbrushes, toothpaste and changes of socks and underwear, but no identifying documents.

Authorities said the white Ford F-250 was carrying 23 immigrants from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala when it veered off a highway and crashed into a stand of trees Sunday night on a highway about 90 miles southeast of San Antonio and about 150 miles northeast of the Mexican border.

Eleven people died at the scene and four others later died at hospitals.

Two of the dead were children.

The driver of the truck is among the dead.

He was identified Tuesday as Ricardo Mendoza-Pineda, 22, of Mexico.

Officials wouldn’t comment on his immigration status, but did say the truck was headed to Houston.

Investigators think the truck’s front right tire came apart, causing the vehicle to veer off the rural highway.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Gerald Bryant said Tuesday that a preliminary investigation indicates layers of the tire had separated.

Bryant would not say if the tire was old and worn or whether there was a manufacturing issue.

He did not identify the tire brand.