Survivor of fatal wreck to be deported

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Oct. 2, 2012 at 5:02 a.m.
Updated Oct. 3, 2012 at 5:03 a.m.

One of the survivors of a one-vehicle wreck that killed 15 passengers in July 22 will be deported to Guatemala.

Judge John D. Rainey made the decision Tuesday in Victoria Federal Court after Rocael Gonzalez-Diaz, 33, pled guilty to entering the U.S. illegally for a second time.

Rainey did not levy any more prison time or fines, despite Gonzalez-Diaz admitting he is a part of a Guatemalan gang called "MS13."

"He has no criminal history in this country," Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Booth said after the 11 a.m. hearing. "He was here to work."

Sitting in a wheelchair and speaking through an interpreter, Gonzalez-Diaz recalled the night his life was spared.

He said he was sitting in the bed of a 2000 Ford F-250 extended-cab pickup with about 11 others, some laying on top of him. They were headed to Houston, traveling on U.S. Highway 59 when he felt the front right tire lose tread north of Beeville. Then, he was thrown from the vehicle.

"I don't remember anything," Gonzalez-Diaz said, asking only that the judge allow him to see his family soon.

Twenty-three people, some of whom are suspected illegal immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala, were crammed into the truck that night. Eight people survived.

Rainey said afterward the death toll was one of the most devastating he's ever seen for a one-vehicle crash.

"I believe you need to do something good with your life," he said. "Good luck and take care of yourself."



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