Border Chase Suspect Dead After Igniting Car

When Border Patrol agents approached the car, the car exploded in flames

By Lauren Steussy
|  Thursday, Mar 15, 2012  |  Updated 8:59 PM PDT
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Chase Driver Sets Self, Car on Fire

NBCSanDiego

Sheriff's Department investigators survey the damage caused by the fire on Thursday morning.

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Chase Driver Sets Self, Car on Fire

Michael Jimenez from the U.S. Customs & Border Protection discusses an incident where a man lit his car on fire after a high-speed chase. Diana Guevara reports.
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A chase near the U.S.-Mexico border late Wednesday night ended with the suspect setting himself and his car on fire.

CHP officers began following the suspect after he began driving the wrong way in the Campo area. When the driver refused to stop, the agents placed spikes on the road, successfully halting the car.

Agents approached the vehicle, and the car exploded in flames, according to Border Patrol spokesman Steven Pitts. Investigators are unsure as to how the suspect ignited the car.

The suspect remained in the vehicle while it caught fire.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was injured by the flames. He was flown to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Pitts said he has never heard of anything like Thursday's incident happening before. He could not say if any drugs or weapons were inside the vehicle.

Deputies took over investigation. A homicide detective will be examining the scene for evidence Thursday.

Old Route 80 was shut down Thursday morning between Sunrise Highway and Buckmans Springs. The car fire occurred east of the Border Patrol Checkpoint.

Pitts said the suspect was not avoiding the checkpoint. However a Border Patrol authority said that often drug smugglers drive the opposite way on the highway to avoid the border checkpoint.

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