PINAL COUNTY, AZ (FOX 10 KSAZ)- Two small children and their mother were injured in a DUI crash in Pinal County on July 4th and deputies say the man who caused the wreck is an immigrant who had been deported six times in the last three years.
The driver has a long history of being kicked out of the country, but deputies say that didn't stop him from coming back and getting behind the wheel while high on drugs, then causing a serious crash that happened in the middle of the afternoon on a rural road south of Maricopa.
Deputies say 29-year-old Manuel Perez-Vasquez nearly killed a young family. They were driving down Papago Road and the mother tried to avoid the crash.
"And she sees a car coming head on into her lane, so she immediately pulls over as far as she could off the side of the road and this car still comes and sideswipes... totaling her car," said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
The 2-year-old girl was rushed to a nearby hospital. Her 5-year-old brother suffered a large cut to his head and had to be flown to a trauma center.
Deputies say there were as many as five people inside the SUV and they all ran into a nearby field, but Perez-Vasquez returned.
"He did admit he had marijuana earlier within the last 24 hours," said Babeu.
Perez-Vasquez is an immigrant from Mexico who had been deported from the U.S. six times since May 2012. This is the first time he's been arrested in Pinal County. Sheriff Babeu says he will not turn this suspect into federal custody.
"Anybody who commits crimes in Pinal County.. we're not turning them over to I.C.E. or Border Patrol for them to deal with, which most agencies do," explained Babeu.
He says he wants to see Perez-Vasquez convicted and sentenced and serve time behind bars here in Arizona before he gets turned over to immigration officials to be deported for the seventh time.
"And likely all they're going to do is send him back to Mexico and he's likely to return again and so this is the problem we have and people are scratching their heads.. it appears there are no consequences for breaking immigration law," said Babeu.
Perez-Vasquez is facing felony charges of DUI and leaving the scene of an injury collision. He could face even more charges pending the results of a blood test.