Kevin Avila [Photo courtesy Pinal County Sheriff’s Office]

The Arizona Department of Public Safety has identified the suspected human smuggler that caused the deaths of three migrants as 18-year-old Kevin Avila.

On Thursday, April 21, 2022, at approximately 8:38 a.m., an Arizona State Trooper attempted to stop Avila, the driver of a Toyota SUV, for reckless driving on westbound Interstate 10 near milepost 214, east of Eloy.

Avila failed to yield to the trooper’s lights and siren and entered the dirt median, where it rolled over. The vehicle then entered the eastbound traffic lanes of Interstate 10, where it collided with a tractor-trailer traveling eastbound.

A third vehicle, a box truck traveling eastbound on Interstate 10, also sustained damage during the collision.

There were nine occupants in the SUV. Five were airlifted to hospitals in the Phoenix and Tucson areas with injuries ranging from serious to critical.

Three of the nine people in the SUV were killed. Two were declared deceased at the scene, and one person died at the hospital.

Avila, of Phoenix, was treated and released from a Tucson-area hospital before being booked into the Pinal County Jail. Avila faces charges including:

  • Homicide – 1st Degree (3 counts)
  • Endangerment (7 counts)
  • Aggravated assault (7 counts)

The driver of the tractor-trailer and box truck sustained minor injuries.

The AZDPS Vehicular Crimes Unit is conducting the criminal investigation for this incident.

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