PATRICK T. FALLON
At least 13 people were killed in the US state of California when an off-road vehicle collided with a truck. Twelve people died at the scene of the accident near the Mexican border, another in the hospital, said a representative of the California highway police on Tuesday.
A total of 25 passengers were said to have been on board the overcrowded SUV. The regional hospital in the city of El Centro had previously reported 15 deaths.
Collision with gravel loader
A representative of the regional hospital said the SUV collided with a truck loaded with gravel about 16 kilometers from the Mexican border. At least five seriously injured people were brought to other hospitals in the region by helicopter.
According to the Mexican government, at least ten were Mexicans among the fatalities. “The investigation stand is too early to say what they did here and where they came from,” said the highway police representative Omar Watson at a press conference.
“We are working with the Mexican consulate to determine exactly who was in the vehicle and to ensure that the next of kin are informed,” he said. The southern California region is an important transit route for Mexican immigrants and farm workers.
Minors in the SUV
The 22-year-old driver of the SUV is also said to have been killed. Several minors are said to have been on board the SUV. The fatalities were between 20 and 55 years old.
The cause of the accident initially remained unclear. However, Watson said the accident was not preceded by a border control pursuit. Such car chases happen again and again on the Californian-Mexican border. According to local media, fatal accidents occur time and again.
According to the police, the SUV was a Ford Expedition, which is approved for a maximum of eight occupants. The driver of the truck was also injured, but he survived the accident. The photos of the scene of the accident showed that the driver’s cab of his semitrailer was hardly damaged, while the SUV was badly damaged in the collision. (AFP)