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The Latest: Arizona crash driver had smuggling record

September 21, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on a fatal crash that left eight dead including four Guatemalans (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

Court records show the driver and passenger of an SUV involved in a deadly head-on crash that left them and four Guatemalan men dead had been previously convicted of immigrant smuggling charges.

Federal court records show 45-year-old driver Rodney Palimo pleaded guilty in March 2008 to a misdemeanor count of aiding and abetting an alien.

He was initially charged with a felony count of transporting an illegal alien.

SUV passenger Kathleen Palimo, 43, in 2004 pleaded guilty to a felony count of transportation of illegal aliens.

They were both killed in the crash Wednesday that also left four Guatemalan men dead and three injured who had been in the SUV.

The driver and passenger in the car they collided with also died.

Authorities say the car veered into the opposite lane of traffic, striking the SUV.

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10 a.m.

Authorities say Arizona residents and immigrants from Guatemala were among the eight people killed in a head-on crash.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety released the names Friday of the victims from Arizona who died in the highway collision near Florence.

Deputies say 41-year-old Angel Meza, of Eloy, was driving a Buick late Wednesday when it went into the opposite lane of traffic and struck an SUV.

Meza and his passenger, 33-year-old Nicole Vidal, were pronounced dead.

The SUV driver, 45-year-old Rodney Palimo, and a front passenger, 43-year-old Kathleen Palimo, both of Sells, also died.

Seven men from Guatemala were also in the car. Four died. The other three were injured. Their conditions were not immediately known.

Officials have not said whether the SUV was involved in a smuggling operation.

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