13 ‘undocumented migrants’ dead and several injured after SUV ‘carrying 25’ crashes into semi-truck

At least 13 people were killed Tuesday morning when an eight-seater SUV stuffed with 25 suspected undocumented immigrants, including children, collided with a semi-truck in Southern California.

The crash occurred on State Route 115 in the area of El Centro, 10 miles north of the US-Mexico border, at around 6:15am local time, authorities said. 

The SUV, a Ford Expedition said to be carrying 25 passengers, had been driving westbound on Norrish Road when it traveled ‘in the direct path’ of a gravel truck heading northbound on 115.  

Twelve people were found dead at the scene and another victim died in hospital, California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said.An area hospital had initially said at least 15 had died, but CHP later clarified the numbers. 

The ages of the deceased range between 20 and 55, NBC reported.

Several other passengers of the SUV were hurt, including an undisclosed number of children. 

At least five of the injured were airlifted from the scene, three of whom are currently in intensive care at the trauma center of Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.  

Dr. Adolphe Edward, the chief executive officer of El Centro Regional, said he believed that all the victims in the SUV were undocumented migrants.  

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A Ford Expedition SUV (seen above) reported to be carrying 27 passengers on board had been travelling westbound on Norrish Road when it traveled ‘in the direct path’ of a gravel truck heading northbound on 115

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said that the driver of the truck suffered only minor injuries. It's unclear if he sought treatment at a hospital

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said that the driver of the truck suffered only minor injuries. It's unclear if he sought treatment at a hospital

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said that the driver of the truck suffered only minor injuries. It’s unclear if he sought treatment at a hospital

Dr. Adolphe Edward, the chief executive officer of El Centro Regional, said he believed that all the victims in the SUV were undocumented migrants

Dr. Adolphe Edward, the chief executive officer of El Centro Regional, said he believed that all the victims in the SUV were undocumented migrants

Dr. Adolphe Edward, the chief executive officer of El Centro Regional, said he believed that all the victims in the SUV were undocumented migrants

Tweleve people were found dead at the scene, Judy Cruz, the managing director of the emergency department at the El Centro Regional Medical Center said at a news conference

Tweleve people were found dead at the scene, Judy Cruz, the managing director of the emergency department at the El Centro Regional Medical Center said at a news conference

Tweleve people were found dead at the scene, Judy Cruz, the managing director of the emergency department at the El Centro Regional Medical Center said at a news conference

All lanes of northbound and southbound SR-115 at Norrish Road are closed, and motorists are told to avoid the area

All lanes of northbound and southbound SR-115 at Norrish Road are closed, and motorists are told to avoid the area

All lanes of northbound and southbound SR-115 at Norrish Road are closed, and motorists are told to avoid the area

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said that the driver of the truck suffered moderate injuries and was also hospitalized.

Cruz said during Tuesday’s press conference that officials believe the SUV was carrying 25 passengers on board when it struck the semi truck ‘full of gravel’.  

It’s unclear if the SUV had stopped at a stop sign before crossing into the path of the semitruck around 6:15 a.m., Watson said. The truck struck the left side of the SUV, which appeared to have been pushed off the road.

‘Obviously, that vehicle´s not meant for that many people,’ Watson said. ‘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.’

He said numerous people were ejected from the vehicle on impact. Ford Expeditions typically have a legal capacity of seven to eight people. 

Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection in Yuma and El Centro, told KTLA his department is assisting with the investigation into the crash. 

He said the immigration status of those in the SUV was unknown and is currently being investigated, contrary to claims made by Edward.

‘It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were,’ Mora said. ‘They might have just been farmworkers.’  

Cruz said during Tuesday's press conference that officials believe the SUV was carrying 27 passengers on board when it struck the semi truck 'full of gravel'

Cruz said during Tuesday's press conference that officials believe the SUV was carrying 27 passengers on board when it struck the semi truck 'full of gravel'

Cruz said during Tuesday’s press conference that officials believe the SUV was carrying 27 passengers on board when it struck the semi truck ‘full of gravel’

At least two other fatal accidents have happened at the same location, according to UC Berkeley's Transportation Injury Mapping System

At least two other fatal accidents have happened at the same location, according to UC Berkeley's Transportation Injury Mapping System

At least two other fatal accidents have happened at the same location, according to UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System

Seven people were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, where one person has since died

Seven people were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, where one person has since died

Seven people were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, where one person has since died 

The site of the crash is in southeastern California, about 10 miles east of El Centro and about 10 miles north of the Mexican border

The site of the crash is in southeastern California, about 10 miles east of El Centro and about 10 miles north of the Mexican border

The site of the crash is in southeastern California, about 10 miles east of El Centro and about 10 miles north of the Mexican border

The Imperial County Fire Department was called to a 'mass fatality incident' just after 6:15am, on Highway 115, at Norris Road

The Imperial County Fire Department was called to a 'mass fatality incident' just after 6:15am, on Highway 115, at Norris Road

The Imperial County Fire Department was called to a ‘mass fatality incident’ just after 6:15am, on Highway 115, at Norris Road

Details surrounding what caused the crash were not immediately available, with the matter currently under investigation.  

However, for decades, there have been concerns about the high death toll in crashes along the California-Mexico border, the LA Times reported.

Many of those wrecks are said to have involved immigrants trying to cross into the US, with a significant number of crashes occurring during chases by American law enforcement. 

Of more than 500 pursuits conducted by US Border Patrol between 2015 and 2018 across California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, one in three ended in a crash. 

There is no evidence to suggest Tuesday’s collision involved a chase. 

A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told DC Examiner journalist Anna Giaritelli that CBP personnel were not involved in the collision, she tweeted.

Dr. Edward, meanwhile called the incident a ‘major accident, with major trauma’. 

‘The patients are of course going through a little bit of a difficult time as you can imagine,’ he said. ‘We are taking care of them in the emergency room department.’ 

A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told DC Examiner journalist Anna Giaritelli that CBP personnel were not involved in the collision

A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told DC Examiner journalist Anna Giaritelli that CBP personnel were not involved in the collision

A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told DC Examiner journalist Anna Giaritelli that CBP personnel were not involved in the collision

Details surrounding what caused the crash were not immediately available, with the matter currently under investigation

Details surrounding what caused the crash were not immediately available, with the matter currently under investigation

Details surrounding what caused the crash were not immediately available, with the matter currently under investigation

At least five were airlifted from the scene, three of whom are currently in intensive care at the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs

At least five were airlifted from the scene, three of whom are currently in intensive care at the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs

At least five were airlifted from the scene, three of whom are currently in intensive care at the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs

Fifteen first responders from Imperial County, five fire engines and a helicopter all responded to the initial call.

The incident was escalated to a ‘mass casualty event’, which prompted a second-alarm response, with 25 additional personnel called to the scene along with at least four additional ambulances and four air helicopters. 

El Centro Fire Department units are also currently on the scene, along with Customs and Border Patrol officers, who are assisting the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office. 

Video posted on social media that purports to show the crash’s aftermath depicts a number of police, ambulance and fire vehicles at the scene.

A jack-knifed truck with two trailers attached to it is seen stationary in the middle of the road.

At least two other fatal accidents have happened at the same location previously, according to UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System. 

The site of the crash is in southeastern California, about 10 miles east of El Centro and about 10 miles north of the Mexican border. 

All lanes of northbound and southbound SR-115 at Norrish Road are closed, and motorists are told to avoid the area.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates… 

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