At least 13 people died Tuesday after an overcrowded passenger vehicle was struck by a cargo truck on a highway in El Centro, southern California, near the US-Mexico border.
According to Judy Cruz, chief of emergency at the local medical center, there were 25 passengers in the SUV, a Ford Expedition – although the number varies by manufacture, this model is designed to accommodate a maximum of eight passengers.
One person did not survive even after being taken to hospital, Cruz said, and the others died at the crash scene. Three patients were taken by helicopter to other hospitals and seven more were taken to El Centro medical center.
TV footage showed the smashed brown SUV next to the cabin of the white truck. The dead were between 20 and 55 years old, according to Omar Watson, head of the highway patrol border patrol.
Most of the passengers were thrown from the vehicle as a result of the impact of the collision and died on the sidewalk. The driver of the truck, which was carrying loads of gravel, was hospitalized with moderate injuries.
The National Transport Safety Directorate will investigate the accident.
Despite the presence of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials and translators, Watson did not clarify whether the occupants of the SUV were immigrant workers or people who could have crossed the Mexican border in the vehicle. .
The officer just said that CBP was in contact with the Mexican consulate to determine who was in the vehicle and to notify families of the deaths. The Foreign Ministry confirmed that there were ten Mexicans among the dead.