At least 18 people were hospitalized yesterday when a van full of migrant workers crashed in . The accident happened on I-95 near Newport. Authorities say that the 20-year-old driver had no drivers’ license or insurance and that the van was not built to carry more than 15 people.
The van accident happened because of a blown tire. The van overturned several times before coming to rest on the left shoulder of I-95. All of the 18 occupants of the van were transported to Christiana hospital in seven ambulances but one of the passengers fled the hospital before receiving treatment.
The migrant workers may be in the country illegally and an investigation into the incident was launched by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. None of the 18 workers had identification and a retired agent from the New Jersey State Police Intelligence Bureau said that such cramped and unsafe conditions are common for migrant workers.
“The migrants will put up with anything because the village that they are coming from and the country that they are coming from has no work,” the agent said. “They can make enough money in 10 weeks here to feed them and house them for a whole year back in their own village.”
This is the first major highway accident involving migrant workers since 2001. In June 2001 a van with 19 migrant workers ran into a tanker truck. The accident occurred on I-495 and killed five of the workers. That accident also involved a 15-passenger van, and the NHTSA has issued warnings indicating that these vans are more likely to rollover when fully loaded.