Monday, August 29, 2011

Deadly Evening At The Tijuana Border Crossing

In 1988, I was in the NAVY in San Diego, California.  One weekend night, some friends and me decided to go down to Tijuana to party.  There were about 6 of us packed in a small economy car flying down the 5 freeway.  The traffic was pretty heavy but moving quickly. 

Not far before the Tijuana border crossing, I saw something ahead of us in the road moving from right to left.  At first, it looked like a dog, and then I realized it was a man running very fast, out of control, trying not to fall.  He was trying to stay upright; he was using his hands on the asphalt to keep from sliding face first across the road.

Just as we came upon him, he fell and slid on his belly, we ran over him.  There was a long silence in the car, then I said “We need to stop”, we just hit somebody.  The driver in the car was in disbelief and said that we hit a dog.  I just sat there stunned for a few moments then insisted that we pull into a parking lot.

We were at the border crossing by this point, pulled into a parking lot and got out of the car; the driver was still insisting that she’d run over a dog.  Another passenger in the car got under the car and a few moments later said, “oh fuck”.  He stood up holding a bloody jean jacket.

I’ll never forget the look on the drivers face; she was horrified.  We called the police, my friend explained where and what had happened.  The officer on the other end of the line was making inquiries on the police radio as he was talking to my friend.  He finally let us know that the accident had already been reported, emergency crews were on the scene and that we’d not been the only car that had hit the pedestrian. 

The next morning the police explained to us that the pedestrian that we hit was a “coyote” transporting illegal aliens from Mexico.  He had been pulled over with a van full of illegal Mexicans.  He ran, jumped the fence alongside the highway and ran out into the traffic. 

A car clipped the pedestrian before he got to us, which is why he was trying to regain his balance.  We hit him and then according to police, a series of cars ran him over after us; he was dead.  The police said that they were not going to press charges against anybody because they knew he was running from police and dashed out onto the highway giving the vehicles no chance to miss him.

My friends’ car was damaged from this incident.  A few days later, she took it in for repairs.  Not but 2 hours later, the mechanic calls to let my friend know that he’s found 3 severed fingers wedged up under the car.  He was pretty freaked out and asked what we wanted to do with them; he had to be calmed down.  The police were called again to collect the remains. 

If you drive down the Interstate 5 south near the Tijuana border crossing, you’ll now see highway signs showing a family holding hands and sprinting.  This is to warn drivers of the dangers of people crossing this massive Interstate on foot.  There are also huge chain link fences on stretches of this roadway to prevent people running across the highway.

I wish the fence was there in the 80’s.