US Gov't To Pay $11M For Border Agent's Accident

Published February 17, 2012 2:18AM (EST)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The federal government agreed on Thursday to pay $11 million to the relatives of three women who were killed when an on-duty immigration agent ran a stop sign in 2009.

The family of Sandra Garcia, who was driving the van that was struck, and Maria Nieto, a passenger, will receive $7.2 million, the families' attorney Jim Frantz told U-T San Diego (

The family of a third passenger, Patricia Reyes, will receive $3.8 million, Frantz said.

Two children survived the Dec. 29, 2009, crash at an El Centro intersection.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Cole Dotson was going more than 100 mph before he slammed into the van carrying the victims.

Dotson was part of a team following a suspected methamphetamine smuggler and did not have his vehicle's lights or sirens on at the time.

Dotson faces vehicular manslaughter charges in Imperial County, a rare instance of a federal agent facing criminal charges for on-duty conduct. He has pleaded not guilty and, at an October hearing in El Centro, was ordered to stand trial.

Dotson's lawyers want the case transferred to federal court in San Diego so he will be able to claim immunity from state criminal charges as a federal law enforcement agent.

A hearing is set for Friday.

By Salon Staff

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