Alleged human smuggler was avoiding capture when he crashed into north Georgia couple, killing 8

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Eight people were killed during a crash near San Antonio, Texas on Wednesday, including a north Georgia couple.

Family says Jose Lerma, 67, and Isabel Lerma, 65, from Dalton were driving to Mexico when they were killed in the crash.

Authorities with the Texas Department of Public Safety says a Houston man suspected of human smuggling was trying to avoid sheriff’s deputies on Hwy. 57.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

To get away, the driver passed a tractor-trailer in an illegal zone and crashed head-on into a Chevrolet SUV being driven by the Lermas.

The car burst into flames and the couple was killed instantly, according to officials.

The six people inside the other car died in the crash. Their identities have not been released.


Troopers have confirmed that several of the people killed in the crash are from Honduras.

“Today we received very shocking news. Our parents had an accident on the way to Mexico and sadly died instantly, leaving our hearts and souls sad but we know that they are with our God now,” the family wrote in a statement.

The Lerma family has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for funeral expenses.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]