At least 13 people died when an SUV stuffed with 25 immigrants, including children, crashed into a gravel-truck in Southern California on Tuesday morning.
The tragic incident happened on State Route 115 in El Centro, about 16km north of the US-Mexico border.
Twelve people were found dead at the scene, including the driver of the maroon Ford Expedition, said California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson.
Injured passengers were rushed to a hospital and at least five of them were airlifted from the scene. Three of the victims are currently in intensive care at the trauma center of Desert Regional Medical Center.
Officials said that the injured are aged between 16 and 55 while those who were killed are aged between 20 and 55.
Dr. Adolphe Edward, the chief executive officer of El Centro Regional, said that he believed the victims in the maroon SUV were unregistered migrants but this is yet to be confirmed by officers.
A spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol said that the driver of the gravel truck suffered moderate injuries but is expected to survive.
It is not clear if the SUV stopped at a stop sign before it crossed into the path of the semi-truck, CHP Chief Watson said.
“It would be premature for me to speculate or discuss what caused this collision. What we have to keep in mind is that 13 people died in this crash,” Watson expressed. “It’s a very sad situation.”
25 people were inside the SUV at the time of the crash.
“Obviously, that vehicle’s not meant for that many people,” Watson added. “It’s unfortunate that that many people were put into that vehicle because there´s not enough safety constraints to safely keep those people in that vehicle.”
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