EL PASO, Texas -- The lawyer for a witness of the recent deadly crash of a vehicle fleeing the Border Patrol agents confirmed Thursday that the El Paso District Attorney’s Office was attempting to stop the imminent deportation of her client - but she didn't know if that effort would be successful.
Wilmur Gomez, 25, of Guatemala, was one of only three survivors in the June 25th crash on Paisano Drive in downtown El Paso that killed seven others. The local head of the Border Patrol has said the car was pursued because it was involved in human smuggling; five of those inside were Guatemalans.
El Paso Matters was first to report that the DA's Office was seeking to intervene to keep Gomez in the U.S. while the investigation into one of the deadliest crashes in the city's history continues.
"Today, I have received assurances from Mr. Esparza’s office that their application for deferred action is being processed in my client’s case," Gomez’s attorney Linda Corchado told ABC-7. "However, that request has not been signed and delivered and in front of supervisors at ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement), and I have received confirmation that ICE is still continuing with the process of deportation."
Corchado added, "As negotiations for his release continue, the District Attorney’s office is on standby to see if they can do anything else to intercede and stop his deportation. I’m deeply grateful to Mr. (Jaime) Esparza and his dedicated team."
Gomez is among several witnesses that have been interviewed separately by ABC-7 and El Paso Matters who dispute claims made by Border Patrol officials that agents broke off their chase of the car before the deadly crash occurred.
While El Paso police said they had determined the "Border Patrol was not chasing (the vehicle) at the time of the crash,” the DA's Office is conducting its own review of the case.
"I spoke to my client earlier this afternoon, he’s in much better spirits but the harm he has sustained will forever change his life. His arm is in a cast and he’s experiencing intense pain and is constantly reliving nightmarish moments of the crash," Corchado said. "But he’s incredibly uplifted to know that our local law enforcement is looking into this incident. He nearly lost his life and saw his friend die in front of him, I hope he can reunite with his wife and American kids in the U.S. soon."
Gomez, who has been interviewed by both law enforcement investigators and the media about the crash, gives this account of what happened to El Paso Matters: He said that as the car he was in accelerated, the group of Border Patrol vehicles behind them also accelerated, eventually reaching high speeds and culminating in the crash just minutes later.
Gomez contends border agents were at the crash scene moments after the car collided with a parked semi-trailer because they never broke off the chase. A security guard who works in the area gave ABC-7 an account of what he witnessed - and it was similar to the statements made by Gomez.
The guard, who requested anonymity, told ABC-7 he saw the car speed by at what he believed to be 90 miles an hour, with the Border Patrol following closely behind, before hearing the crash. He said the border agents arrived at the crash scene within 10 to 15 seconds later.
Although denying any wrongdoing, an internal memo that was leaked indicated the Border Patrol changed its chase policy shortly after the deadly Paisano crash. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has accused of the agency of operating with "impunity" and has sought an independent probe of agents' actions in the case.