Authorities said a collision between a crowded passenger car and a heavy truck killed 13 people, including at least ten Mexican citizens, as well as injuring many more Tuesday morning in Southern California.
The accident occurred around 6:15 a.m. near the border with Mexico, and involved a heavy truck towing two trailers that collided with a large Ford Expedition SUV that was crossing a national highway at a stop sign.
“There were 25 people in the Ford Expedition, including the driver. Unfortunately, 12 passengers, including the driver, died on the spot, and another person succumbed to his injuries after being rushed to hospital,” said Omar Watson, head of the California Highway Police investigation .
According to the Ford website, the Expedition is designed to accommodate a maximum of eight people.
Earlier, an official from a nearby hospital in El Centro said that a total of 28 people were in the car, and 15 of them had died.
According to Leader Watson, the deceased victims were between the ages of 20 and 55, but at least one of the injured passengers was a 16-year-old minor.
The identity of the 22-year-old driver has been confirmed, but this has not been revealed by the emergency services, who were still struggling in the middle of the day to identify some of the passengers, a task that made it even more difficult. shock.
Some of the injured spoke to investigators, “but they did not provide enough information to help us understand the cause of the collision,” Watson said during a second press briefing.
Some of them were thrown on the road, fell to the ground, and succumbed to their wounds. Others were found dead inside the car and others were injured and managed to escape on their own, ”said Omar Watson.
Some of the victims could come from neighboring Mexico, and the police officer said, “work with the Mexican consulate to determine who exactly was in the car and make sure families are notified.”
“Many people in the car don’t speak English. […] We are close to the border, and there are people who come and go every day for work, and we cannot rule out “that the passengers came from Mexico, as President Watson later explained.”
Are they migrant workers, legal or not? “We don’t know that. The police officer insisted that“ it is too early at this stage of the investigation to say what they were doing and where they came from, ”stressing that a multidisciplinary team of experts had been formed to shed light on this drama.
Omar Watson insisted that the collision did not happen during a hunt in which law enforcement authorities were involved.
In the past, a number of road accidents have been linked to border police interventions to prosecute people suspected of entering the United States illegally.
The truck driver, who was only “moderately wounded”, should be able to help investigators trace the facts through his testimony.
The accident occurred on National Highway 115 near Holtville, about 10 kilometers north of the US-Mexico border.
Pictures of the collision broadcast by local media show a white heavy truck, two trailers sealed across the road, and the front fascia covered by the side of a large burgundy SUV.
The truck cabin was almost intact, but the other car, although still on its four wheels, appeared to have been badly damaged.