IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. -- More than a dozen people are dead along the California-Mexico border after a crash Tuesday morning between a gravel truck and SUV.
Imperial County emergency crews were called out to the accident scene near Holtville before 7 a.m. PT. Holtville is a farming community about ten miles north of the border with Mexico, growing mostly alfalfa and vegetables.
California Highway Patrol is investigating the accident, and says 25 people were inside the Ford Expedition at the time of the accident. They say 12 of those occupants died on scene. Others from inside the Expedition were able to climb out themselves, and some were ejected, according to CHP.
Four people were flown from the scene to hospitals, and another ten were taken to nearby hospitals by emergency ground crews. Unfortunately, one of those transported has since died.
The driver of the truck has moderate injuries. The driver of the Expedition has reportedly died, according to CHP.
There were children among the victims, however their exact ages and conditions are not known at this time. The ages of those injured ranges from 16 years old to 55 years old.
“The patients are going through a little bit of a difficult time as you can imagine, this was a major accident,” said Dr. Adolphe Edward, CEO El Centro Regional Medical Center, during an update.
Doctors say the patients had various injuries, including to their chests, heads, and limbs.
Officers at the scene say the do not know the rate of speed of either vehicle at the time of the crash, and they are investigating what caused the accident. Tuesday afternoon they said they believe the Expedition went into the intersection in front of the big rig, and was hit by the big rig, pushing it into the shoulder.
They said Border Patrol agents were helping with translation and talking to the survivors. They are concerned about notifying family members at this time about the crash victims. CHP is also working with the Mexican Consulate to help identify victims and reach family members.
"The important is that 13 people died in this crash. We owe it to the families of those that were killed and injured, as well as the public, to complete a thorough investigation to determine what exactly happened," said CHP Chief Omar Watson.