DPS releases 21 identities of 23 Goliad wreck victims

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

July 31, 2012 at 2:31 a.m.
Updated Aug. 1, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.

Goliad resident Peggy Cortinas attended a memorial Sunday, honoring the 23 immigrants who crashed into a tree.

Goliad resident Peggy Cortinas attended a memorial Sunday, honoring the 23 immigrants who crashed into a tree.   Carolina Astrain for The Victoria Advocate

The names of 21 of the 23 illegal immigrants involved in a one-vehicle wreck in Goliad more than a week ago were released Tuesday by Department of Public Safety investigator Scott Jendrzey.

The wreck on July 22, which killed 15 passengers and injured eight from Mexico and Guatemala, occurred three miles south of Farm-to-Market Road 1351 on U.S. Highway 59 near Berclair.

All 23 passengers - 20 men and three women - were riding in a 2000 Ford F-250 bound for Houston, when the the front right tire de-treaded and the driver, Ricardo Mendoza-Pineda, 22, of Mexico, crashed into a tree.

According to the DPS report, Mendoza-Pineda was carrying five passengers inside the extended cab of the pickup: Manuela Salvador-Suar, 15, who was sitting in the front center seat; Leonel Tipaz-DeLeon, 22, who was sitting in the back right seat; Enrique Humberto Solis-Tumux, 15, who is listed as traveling in the cargo area; an unidentified woman, who was sitting in the front center seat, and Rodolfo Duenas-Vasquez, 39, who was sitting in the front right passenger seat.

All six passengers riding in the cab, and five passengers riding in the bed of truck were pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m. at the scene.

Duenas-Vasquez and Mendoza-Pineda were the only occupants of the vehicle who were from Mexico. The remaining passengers were Guatemalan, DPS Sgt. Jonathon Christian said.

Crammed into the bed of the truck, possibly laying down, were 16 men and one woman ranging in age from 16 to 45. All 17 passengers in the bed were ejected from the vehicle.

Riding in the bed of the truck were Maria Dominga Curruchich-Jiatz, 22, who died at 8:17 p.m. July 22 at Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi; Diego Maydoqueo Tipaz-Jorge, 16, who died at 11:35 p.m. July 22 at University Hospital in San Antonio; Juan Mejia-Morales, 27, who died 8:10 a.m. July 23 at Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi; and Miguel Macario-Cuino, 20, who died at 2:35 p.m. July 24 at DeTar Hospital Navarro.

Manuel Zuniga-Lemus, 45; Victor Tomas Pablo-Jorge, 17; Domingo Ramos-Pol, 24; Agustin Solis-Lopes, 32; and Angel Guarcas-Pablo, 28, were also riding in the bed of the truck, but were killed at the scene.

The remaining eight survivors, Amilcar Pol-Panho, 17; Jose Morales-Zavala, 18; Rocael Gonzalez-Diaz, 33; Mario Pango-Tol, 16; Cesar Tuquiz-Pablo, 16; Miguel Lares-Zetina, 21; and Miguel Geronimo Cabrera-Marroquin, 22, and an unidentified man were riding in the bed of the vehicle.

It is unknown where they were located in the bed of the truck before Mendoza-Pineda struck the tree.

Jendrzey, who is stationed in Floresville, wrote in the report that the 23 occupants exceeded the registered gross weight of the vehicle, which caused the tread to separate from the tire.

He also noted other possible contributing factors to the wreck such as a domestic animal may have been on the road, and the driver failing to take evasive action to avoid the tree.

The wreck occurred during daylight hours with clear weather conditions on a dry highway.

The Ford F-250 is registered to Hector Garcia, of Houston, who is reported to have sold the vehicle before the wreck.

Christian did not know whether Garcia sold the vehicle to Mendoza-Pineda.

Two of the passengers, a man who survived and a woman who was killed, have yet to be identified, according to the crash report.

Christian said his department is working closely with the Guatemalan Consulate in Houston to help contact the families and identify the remaining two passengers.



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