At least 13 people died after an SUV carrying dozens of passengers crashed with a semi-truck near the U.S.-Mexican border on Tuesday, according to California Highway Patrol officials.
California Highway Patrol Division Chief Omar Watson said the crash involved a big rig hauling two trailers and a Ford Expedition which had 25 people. The big rig crashed into the side of the SUV before 6:15 a.m. PST at the intersection of State Route 115 and Norrish Road near Holtville, about 50 miles west of Arizona and 10 miles north of the border.
An initial report on the crash released on Tuesday night by the highway patrol said the SUV, driven by a 28-year-old resident of Mexico, “entered the intersection directly in front” of a Peterbilt truck driven by Joe Beltran, 68, of El Centro, California.
The truck hit the left side of the SUV, immediately killing its driver, who is yet to be named by police. The report says it is not clear why the driver of the SUV pulled into the intersection into the path of the truck.
Beltran was admitted to an area hospital with “major injuries,” the report said.
“It would be premature for me to speculate or discuss what caused this crash. What we have to keep in mind is that 13 people died in this crash,” Watson said. “It’s a very sad situation.”
Twelve individuals died at the scene, including the SUV driver, and one died at the hospital. There were children in the SUV, but none of them died, he said. The ages of those involved in the crash are between 15 to 53.
The California Highway Patrol worked with the Mexican consulate to figure out who was inside the vehicle.
Investigation into the incident remains ongoing.