Illegal Immigrants, Smugglers Involved in “Mass Casualty” Crash in California

"Police Line / Police Tape" (CC BY 2.0) by Tony Webster

A highway crash in California involving human smugglers and illegal immigrants left over a dozen dead on Tuesday. 

Two vehicles that were crammed with 25 illegal immigrants and smugglers had driven through the ten-foot-wide hold in the early morning hours of Monday, somehow evading a mobile camera system that was set up nearby. 

According to sources, the border patrol was not looking for smugglers at that time until they were notified by the Imperial County Sheriffs Office about the highway crash that occurred around 8 miles north of where the border was cut.

The wreck involved an overloaded Ford Expedition, which in a regular case, can only fit eight people and a semi-truck near the U.S.-Mexico border. Officials also noted that the SUV, though only had two seats in front, was modified and have the back seat removed in order to create more space to fit more people in. 

The crash happened in Holtville, a town that is around 125 miles outside of San Diego. 

As a result of the highway crash, California Highway Patrol officers found 13 people dead on the scene while another passenger of the SUV died at a local hospital. The remaining eight victims that were injured were transported to different local hospitals. 

According to CHP Chief Omar Watson, authorities are still investigating whether the driver of the Ford SUV, who also died in the crash, stopped at a stop sign before crossing into the path of the big rig around 6:15 a.m.

The gravel-hauling semi-truck then hit the left side of the SUV which appeared to have been pushed off the road. 

Watson said, “Obviously, that vehicle is not meant for that many people.” He added, “It’s unfortunate that many people were put into that vehicle because there are not enough safety constraints to safely keep those people in that vehicle.”

The driver of the commercial truck which was hauling two trailers of gravel was also hospitalized with moderate injuries. 

A California Highway Patrol official told Fox News that they are working with the Mexican consulate in order to identify the victims and notify their families.

According to report, the victims’ age ranges from 20 to 55. Among the injured is the youngest at 16 years old. 

Customs and Border Protection told Fox News that the crash resulted after a hole was cut in the border fence near Calexico, California. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Adolphe Edward, chief medical officer at El Centro Regional Medical Center stated at the hospital’s news conference that they do not use the term undocumented in the hospitals. “To us, these folks that came to us are patients,” he added.

One hospital official who was on site when the patients arrived stated that the surviving victims are being treated for “several different life-threatening injuries.”

The official said, “several patients did get transferred out those were the most critically ill, the ones that were flown from the scene. The ones that came into us had injuries ranging from fractures to life-threatening head injuries [and] chest injuries.”

The hospital official added that the patients, including those who were transferred out of El Centro Regional Medical Center now, appear to be in stable condition.