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6 injured in car crash after smuggler flees from Sullivan City police

When a police car pulled behind a black Ford Mustang on Sunday, the driver sped away — causing a crash that injured six people in Peñitas.

At 4:34 p.m. on Sunday, Sullivan City police Officer Hernan Quintanilla attempted to stop the Mustang on U.S. 83 near Vanderpool Road.

20180708 Penitas CrashThe driver refused to pull over. When he accelerated toward La Joya, the police car followed.

By the time the police car approached Tom Gill Road in Peñitas, the Mustang had pulled away. Quintanilla prepared to terminate the pursuit, said Sullivan City police Chief Richard Ozuna.

“But then he just saw a bunch of clouds of smoke,” Ozuna said.

The Mustang struck two cars near the intersection of U.S. 83 and Main Street, injuring six people. Three suffered serious injuries.

The driver, Jose Rafael Perez Jr., 20, of Mission, jumped from the Mustang and ran away. Officers arrested him moments later.

Border Patrol also detained three passengers in the Mustang who weren’t legally present in the United States.
Perez appeared timid and contrite Monday afternoon, when he appeared before Municipal Judge Alex Cantu for arraignment.

“I’m scared,” Perez said, adding that he’d never been in trouble before.

“Well, why would you put yourself in a predicament like that?” Cantu said, reminding Perez that he’d seriously hurt several people.

Perez is charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, a second-degree felony; one count of smuggling of persons-likelihood of serious bodily injury or death, a second-degree felony; evading arrest or detention with a vehicle, a third-degree felony; and evading arrest or detention, a Class A misdemeanor.

Conviction on any second-degree felony charge is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Court records don’t list an attorney for Perez, who remains at the Hidalgo County jail and couldn’t be reached for comment.Jose Rafael Perez Jr HCSO Booking Photo

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