More than a dozen people were reportedly killed in a gruesome collision approximately 10 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border in California.
According to reports, the crash occurred early Tuesday morning when a vehicle packed with 25 undocumented immigrants collided with a semi-truck in Imperial County.
“Initiated a human smuggling investigation”
Most of the individuals involved in the crash were believed to be foreign nationals.
An update from the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that agents from the San Diego investigations unit responded to the scene “and have initiated a human smuggling investigation.”
The driver was identified as a 28-year-old Mexican man who pulled into an intersection in front of the truck, which was being driven by a 68-year-old man. Both drivers reportedly sustained “major injuries.”
In a statement on the matter, California Highway Patrol Division Chief Omar Watson said: “It would be premature for me to speculate or discuss what caused this collision.”
He went on to reiterate that “13 people died in this crash,” which he described as “a very sad situation.”
“Going through a little bit of a difficult time”
Watson did acknowledge, however, that the vehicle carrying those killed “is not meant for that many people” and that it was “unfortunate that that number of people were put into that vehicle.”
Of those killed, all but one were pronounced dead at the scene while another man died later after being transported to an area hospital. The deceased ranged in age from 15 to 53 and at least 10 of them were identified as Mexican citizens. Seven additional survivors were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center. CEO Dr. Adophe Edward addressed the situation in a subsequent news conference.
“The patients are, of course, going through a little bit of a difficult time as you can imagine,” he told reporters. “This is a major accident. We are taking care of them in the emergency room department.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was among the many officials across California and beyond who issued their own statements. She tweeted: “My thoughts are with the families of all those involved. My office is closely monitoring the situation as we learn more about this horrific crash. My thanks to the Imperial County Fire Department and other first responders for their swift response and the various medical centers in the area that treated injured passengers.”