Published: Wed, March 03, 2021
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At least 15 die in California crash

At least 15 die in California crash

At least 15 people have been killed in a collision between an SUV and a semitrailer truck in southern California.

"NTSB, in concert with CHP, is conducting a safety investigation of Tuesday's fatal crash involving an SUV and a truck near Holtville, California", it said in a statement via Twitter.

Ms Cruz said: "We believe there was 27 passengers in this SUV that struck a semi-truck full of gravel".

"We are working with the Mexican consulate to determine exactly who was in the vehicle and make sure we notify the next of kin", Watson said, without specifying the nationality of those involved in the accident.

"There were 25 occupants in the Ford Expedition, including the driver", Watson said.

Some 14 people died at the scene while another person died at the El Centro Regional Medical Centre, the director of the hospital's emergency room, Judy Cruz, said in the briefing, posted on Facebook.

"This was not a Border Patrol pursuit, this is not associated with other agencies".

The CHP noted that the age range for the injured were 16-55; the age range for those that died is 20-55.

The driver of the semitruck, who is 69, had moderate injuries. Two passengers from the SUV are in intensive care, including one who is in critical condition, hospital spokesman Todd Burke said.

It isn't yet known where all of the SUV passengers were from, as some didn't have identification, Watson said, though he did add that the driver was from the Mexican city of Mexicali. "Subsequently, the big rig collided with the left side of the Ford Expedition", Watson said.

Deputies described a gruesome scene in which 12 people were found dead and the wounded were walking around aimlessly or trying to free themselves from the vehicle.

Watson said specifics regarding the seating configuration of the group were still under investigation. It's unfortunate that the number of people were put into that vehicle because there's not enough safety restraints to safely keep those people within the vehicle.

She said six patients were being treated at the hospital, and another three were hospitalized at a separate area treatment center.

Watson said seats were missing from the SUV and the only ones still in the vehicle at the time of the crash were the drivers seat and the front passenger seat.

Officials with the Imperial County Fire Department told ABC7 that the crash resulted in a second-alarm response, meaning that there were "25 additional personnel called to the scene along with at least four additional ambulances and four air helicopters". He said the immigration status of those in the SUV was unknown and being investigated.

Despite the presence of CBP agents and Spanish translators, Watson said it was too early to know whether the SUV's occupants were migrant workers or others who might have crossed from Mexico in the overcrowded vehicle.

The crash occurred during the height of harvest in California's Imperial Valley, which provides much of the lettuce, onions, broccoli and winter vegetables to US supermarkets.

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