Authorities still don’t know why the SUV was packed with 25 people early in the morning. We don’t know where they were going. And, ultimately, what caused the semi-trailer to crash into the side of the Ford Expedition at an intersection on a rural road 10 miles north of the Mexican border.
“It would be premature of me to speculate on what happened in this collision. The important thing is that 13 people died in this accident,” said the head of the California Highway Patrol’s border division, Omar Watson. “We owe it to the families of those killed and injured as well to the public to conduct a full and thorough investigation.”
But after a day of sifting through the aftermath of the crashed semiconductor jack in the left side of the SUV, here’s what we know:
Hospital and police officials gave slightly different numbers of injuries and deaths in the incident.
Judy Cruz, general manager of the emergency department at El Centro Regional Medical Center, said the vehicle had 28 occupants and 15 were deceased.
But Watson said in a morning briefing that there were 25 occupants in the expedition and 13 died, including the driver of the SUV. The SUV’s passengers were between 15 and 53 years old, he said.
It is not yet clear where all of the SUV’s passengers came from, as some did not have IDs, Watson said, although he added that the driver was from the Mexican town of Mexicali.
“We’re close to the border, so we have people coming and going for work daily,” he said.
And the Mexican consulate said at least 10 of the victims were Mexican nationals.
Consulate officials said they were saddened by the news and are working to confirm the nationality of the other three passengers.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, 69, had moderate injuries. The trailers he was pulling were unloaded, Watson said.
According to authorities, police received a call about the accident at around 6.15 a.m. At the time of the accident, the semi-trailer was moving north on National Highway 115 and the expedition was moving to the North. west on the Norrish Highway in the Holtville area, about 100 miles. east of San Diego, Watson said.
The semi-truck was traveling at an unknown speed when it struck the left side of the SUV.
Watson said it was not clear whether the SUV had stopped at an intersection, but entered the intersection “in front of the big platform.”
“I don’t know if they were cut out or removed, I’m not sure, but they weren’t in the vehicle,” Watson said. “What this indicates is that there weren’t enough seat belts for the passengers.”
The scene was gruesome, with some occupants being thrown from the vehicle and killed, while others were found dead in the SUV, Watson said. According to him, 12 people died at the crash site and one person died in a hospital.
What is the next step in the investigation
The injured occupants were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC), Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, and Pioneers Memorial Hospital in nearby Brawley. UC San Diego Health said it received three patients transferred from the ECRMC by air ambulance.
Three of the four patients treated at the Desert Regional Medical Center were in the intensive care unit, hospital communications director Todd Burke told CNN.
At least one of the injured SUV passengers has been released from the hospital, Watson said.
US authorities are now working with the Mexican Consulate to determine who was in the SUV and notify their next of kin.
Special agents from the San Diego Homeland Security Investigations Office are investigating whether it was human trafficking, a U.S. immigration and customs spokesperson told CNN in a report. communicated.
The National Transportation Safety Board also said it would investigate the crash.
“The NTSB, together with CHP, is conducting a safety investigation into Tuesday’s fatal accident involving an SUV and truck near Holtville, Calif.,” He said in a statement via Twitter.
“The investigator in charge of the NTSB is expected to arrive on Wednesday, later joined by two other investigators.”
Konstantin Toropin, Stella Chan, Alexandra Meeks, Steve Almasy, Priscilla Alvarez, Jaqueline Hurtado, and Paul P. Murphy contributed to this report.