updated 10/17/2006 10:27:02 AM ET 2006-10-17T14:27:02

A pickup truck carrying as many as 17 suspected illegal immigrants rolled over in southwest Arizona, killing one person and leaving three seriously injured.

At least a dozen passengers were flown to hospitals in Yuma and Phoenix Monday as agents with the U.S. Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector continued to search Monday night for the group’s suspected driver and smuggler. They believe he fled the scene to avoid capture.

Agents used night-vision goggles and cameras, spotlights and infrared sensors in their search for the man, who also could be injured, said Lloyd Easterling, a Border Patrol spokesman.

The incident began when an agent spotted the pickup truck traveling down a winding loose-gravel road 14 miles east of Hyder, a remote town about 50 miles west of Gila Bend.

“The area is very commonly used for alien and narcotic smuggling because of its remoteness,” Easterling said. “They use that to circumvent law enforcement.”

The agent followed the truck’s path but later lost sight of the vehicle completely. He came upon the accident after driving through a dust cloud, Easterling said.

Lt. Paul Chagolla, a sheriff’s spokesman, said three of those injured had life-threatening injuries, but could not elaborate on their condition.

The suspected illegal immigrants will be interviewed once officials determine they’re physically well.

“Once we get the health issues ironed out, then we’ll worry about their immigration status,” Easterling said. “But not until we make sure they’re healthy.”

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