13 killed in California crash allegedly breached Mexico fence, entered USA illegally

Yolanda Curtis
March 4, 2021

The SUV carrying 25 people that was struck by a big rig Tuesday morning, killing 13, had recently crossed from Mexico, possibly through a breach in the border wall, federal officials said Wednesday.

Prior to the crash, the group's Ford Expedition pulled onto Highway 115 from an adjacent street and into the path of the big rig under circumstances that remain under investigation, the chief said.

"Everyone in the vehicle was injured to some extent", he said, adding that a few who had minor injuries had already been released from the hospital.

A total of 25 occupants, including a driver, were traveling in the SUV at the time of the crash, he told reporters earlier in the day.

But, according to NBC, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) "later clarified" that 13 people, aged between 20 and 55, were dead. Among the dead was the SUV's 22-year-old driver.

Dr. Shavonne Borchardt at El Centro Regional Medical Center said injuries ranged from fractures to life-threatening head and chest injuries.

Images of the collision showed the semi-truck crashed into the side of a burgundy-colored SUV that appeared to have California license plates.

How long the opening existed - and whether more vehicles or pedestrians had entered the USA through that point - was not immediately clear. Watson said some of the SUV's occupants did not speak English and translators are helping the CHP.

Ford Expedition is a sufficiently large vehicle that is capable of seating up to eight people.

Watson said he did not know if the victims were farmworkers.

The cab of the truck was nearly intact, but the SUV - although still on its four wheels - was badly damaged. He said the immigration status of those in the vehicle was unknown and being investigated. The ages of those injured ranges from 16 years old to 55 years old. Seven people were taken to that hospital, including one person who later died. "We offer our profound condolences and reaffirm our commitment to the families of the persons who lose their lives".

The Mexican government confirmed later Tuesday that at least 10 of the deceased were Mexican nationals.

Guatemalan authorities said they had preliminary information that one Guatemalan died and another was injured in the crash.

Tuesday's deadly collision between the SUV and truck carrying gravel happened at around 6:15 a.m.at the intersection of state Route 115 and Norrish Road in Holtville, the CHP said.

Neither SUV was being pursued by Border Patrol personnel at the time of their accidents, the agency's release said.

Macario Mora, a spokesman for Custom and Border Protection's Yuma and El Centro sectors, said in a statement to The Times that the agency's personnel weren't chasing or following the vehicle at the time of the accident but had responded to the scene at the request of the Imperial County Sheriff's Department.

Other reports by iNewsToday