This 2004 Ford-F250 pick-up truck was struck in its right rear bed area by a train Thursday night near Agua Dulce. Three individuals, all believed to be illegal immigrants, were killed.

Two men, one woman believed to be illegal immigrants. Photo by PETE GARCIA

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

AGUA DULCE - Three suspected illegal immigrants were killed and two others were injured Thursday when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by a train near Agua Dulce, officials said.

Department of Public Safety Trooper David Anguiano, the lead investigator in the incident, said the accident occurred shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday at a railroad crossing on Farm-to-Market Road 70, just south of Highway 44 in Agua Dulce.

According to DPS reports, a blue 2004 Ford F-250 pickup truck was traveling northbound on Farm-to-Market Road 70, approaching the railroad crossing, when a westbound train activated the railroad crossings warning lights and caused the railroad crossing arms to lower.

The driver of the pickup truck apparently ignored the warning lights and attempted to drive around the railroad crossing arms, causing the train to strike the truck in the right rear of the bed area, officials said.

Anguiano said the truck contained 10 or more suspected illegal immigrants, including some who were hidden in an area in the rear of the cab, where the back seat had been removed.

Several people were ejected from the vehicle upon impact, Anguiano said.

Two men and one woman were pronounced dead at the scene, and a man and woman were transported to a Corpus Christi hospital with unspecified injuries.

Agents with the U.S. Border Patrol, assisted by a Department of Public Safety helicopter, searched the area for several hours in an attempt to locate the other passengers and the driver, but no other individuals were found Thursday night.

The names of the injured and deceased were not released by the DPS Thursday.