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Three of eight people riding in a van drowned when the vehicle plunged into a canal and trapped them inside, police said Monday.

Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Miranda said alcohol and excessive speed may have contributed to the Sunday night accident.

Miranda said the eight people included a woman, who was the driver, her 13-year-old son and six men who were illegal immigrants from Mexico.

The eight people were in a 1977 Dodge van when it went into a canal along the Rio Grande River.

One man was in a coma, Miranda said.

The eight people were pulled from the water after about 15 minutes by sheriff's deputies and three civilians who were in the area, Miranda said.

The driver of the van, Maria C. Flores, 40, was arrested and charged with three counts of vehicle homicide, one count of great bodily harm by a motor vehicle, child abuse and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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