At Least 13 People Confirmed Dead Amid Conflicting Reports on SUV vs Semi-Truck Crash
Holtville, CA – At least thirteen people have been confirmed dead in a crash between an SUV transporting dozens of people and a semi-truck hauling gravel Tuesday morning in southern California.
The fatal incident unfolded just before 6:15 a.m. approximately 11 miles north of U.S.-Mexico border at the intersection of State Route 115 and Norrish Road near Holtville.
According to California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Jack Sanchez, the tractor-trailer was headed northbound traveling on Hwy. 115, and an older model Ford Expedition was traveling westbound on Norrish Road.
The SUV stopped at the intersection before the driver “for unknown reasons pulled directly in front of the big rig,” Sanchez stated.
The Peterbilt semi-truck, owned by Havens and Sons Trucking Inc., collided with the left side of the Ford SUV.
A preliminary investigation revealed 27 people were inside the SUV at the time of the collision though officials have provided conflicting information on this so far.
The max capacity of a Ford Expedition is eight.
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Latest Update on Fatalities
Fourteen people within the SUV were killed at the scene, El Centro Regional Medical Center’s (ECRMC) emergency room managing director Judy Cruz said in a Facebook Live video in the hours shortly following the accident.
Additionally, seven others were transported to multiple area hospitals to be treated for their injuries.
Three were airlifted from the scene, Cruz stated.
According to Cruz, one of the victims passed away after arriving at the hospital, bringing the death toll to 15 as of publishing.
However, California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Omar Watson said there were just 25 occupants in the Expedition during the crash and that 13 died, including the driver of the SUV.
The driver of the semi-truck suffered moderate injuries and was among those transported to a nearby hospital, Chief Watson informed.
The ages of the deceased victims range between 20 and 55.
Those injured include minors as young as 16 years of age.
At least three of the victims transported to hospitals were in intensive care, Desert Regional Medical Center spokesperson Todd Burke stated.
Reporting from DailyMail reveals Dr. Adolphe Edward, CEO of ECRMC, said he believed that all the victims in the SUV were illegally present in the United States.
“I want to address an issue upfront with everybody. We don’t use the term ‘undocumented’ in the hospitals,” Edward stated during a press conference. “To us, these folks that came to us are patients.”
Francisco Torres with the Mexican Consulate was on-scene at ECRMC.
Edward said ECRMC was keeping the Consulate “up to speed on the patients we have.”
In contradiction to Edward’s statements, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Yuma and El Centro said the immigration status of the victims is unknown.
“It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were,” Macario Mora, CBP spokesperson, said. “They might have just been farmworkers.”
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) will continue to bring you updates as they become available.
Photo courtesy Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun