A Border Patrol agent and detainee were not wearing seat belts when the vehicle they were in veered off the southbound roadway of Interstate 19 on Aug. 16 during a rainstorm.
The vehicle rolled over near Kilometer 27, sending both the agent and the detainee to Holy Cross Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries and released, according to information from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Arizona state law requires seat belts be worn by drivers and front-seat passengers.
In addition, agents are required to wear seat belts when operating a government vehicle, according to a statement the Border Patrol issued to the NI on Monday morning. “Detainees, whether in handcuffs or not, should always be transported using a seatbelt,” the statement said.
“Tucson Sector Border Patrol leadership continually reminds our employees of seatbelt safety and agency policy through training, messaging campaigns and both electronic and physical sign postings,” the statement said.
Border Patrol vehicles are equipped with seat belts, both for detainees and agents, according to agency spokesman Peter Bidegain. That includes the “kilo” trucks with detention boxes on the back beds that frequently circulate on streets and roads in Santa Cruz County. The trucks are so named because their designation begins with the letter “K.”
A Border Patrol agent who died in a rollover crash near Benson in May was not wearing a seat belt, according to media reports. The agent was ejected from the patrol truck, but another agent in the truck was wearing a seat belt and sustained only minor injuries.
In February, an agent working near San Diego during a rainstorm lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a tree. The agent was wearing a seat belt and suffered minor injuries to his hand and face, according to the Fox 5 TV station in San Diego.
With regard to the Aug. 16 rollover, “the administrative investigation/review of the accident is still ongoing” and the agency’s policy is not to comment on ongoing investigations, the Border Patrol statement said.
When asked whether the agent driving the vehicle without a seat belt would face any disciplinary action, the agency’s statement said: “In general, depending on the outcome of an internal review or investigation, an employee could face administrative/disciplinary action.”