8 Killed in Texas Crash When Suspected Human Smuggler Evading Police Collides Head-on with Couple's SUV

The other vehicle was occupied by married couple Jose Lerma and Isabel Lerma, who were traveling to Mexico from their home in Georgia

<p>GoFundMe</p> Jose and Isabel Lerma


Jose and Isabel Lerma

Eight people were killed in a crash on a Texas highway when a driver suspected of carrying smuggled immigrants crashed into a SUV while trying to evade officers, according to authorities.

The driver of the Honda Civic who authorities allege was involved in human smuggling was from Houston and trying to dodge Zavala County Sheriff’s Office deputies, according to Chris Olivarez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, the unit that is investigating the case.

All eight people in both vehicles, including two in the SUV, died.

Some of the passengers of the Honda Civic were immigrants from Honduras, Olivarez announced on social media on Wednesday. Their identities have not been announced.

The SUV “burst into flames” upon impact, killing both the driver and the passenger who were from Georgia, Olivarez said.

The two people in the SUV have been identified as Jose Lerma, 67 and Isabel Lerma, 65 from Dalton, Ga, Olivarez said in a follow-up post. In a GoFundMe, their son Jairo Lerma said the couple was on their way to Mexico and “sadly died instantly.”

“These events are things that no one expects,” Jairo wrote, adding that the funds raised would go towards the couple’s funeral expenses.

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A Facebook account for Isabel Lerma featured a post by Isabel early Wednesday morning wishing someone a happy birthday. Less than an hour later, at 6:30 a.m., the crash took place.

Texas DPS did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for further information. 

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