Ford Expedition Carrying 25 People Involved in T-Bone Crash With Semi

In this image from KYMA law enforcement work at the scene of a deadly crash involving a semitruck and an SUV in Holtville Calif. on Tuesday

In this image from KYMA law enforcement work at the scene of a deadly crash involving a semitruck and an SUV in Holtville Calif. on Tuesday

At least 15 people were killed in southern California on Tuesday when a vehicle packed with people collided with a large truck, officials said.

Authorities, late Tuesday, said they are investigating whether human smuggling was involved.

Authorities say no. For decades, there have been concerns about the high death toll in crashes along the California-Mexico border. Both vehicles stopped, Sanchez said, but the SUV pulled out in front of the truck as both started moving. One other person died at the hospital.

The maximum capacity of a Ford Expedition is eight passengers.

Watson also said that "there were children in the vehicle but we don't have all the ages yet", later specifying that they were "not young children".

"Some people were ejected onto the pavement, onto the ground, who passed away as a result of those injuries".

Multiple patients were sent to hospitals for their injuries, including four flown to Desert Regional Medical Centre in Palm Springs, spokesman Todd Burke said. The Mexican government said 10 of the dead were Mexican citizens and that nationalities of the three others who died was undetermined.

"Patients are going through a hard time as you can imagine", El Centro Regional Medical Center CEO Adolphe Edward said. "This was a major accident and we are taking care of them in the emergency room department". Authorities said the tractor-trailer and its two empty containers were northbound on State Highway 115 when the SUV pulled in front of it from a road with a stop sign.

In response to questions about the SUV's passengers, Watson said investigators were working to determine their identities and also to notify the families who lost loved ones. We're not sure exactly what caused the collision.

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"It's a very sad situation", Watson of the CHP said.

"It was a pretty chaotic scene", Watson said, later adding that, "everyone in the vehicle was injured to some extent". "The Ford Expedition was westbound on Norrish Road, just east of 115 at the intersection", Watson said.

Imperial County Deputy Fire Chief Sal Flores said the Fire Department and the county's Office of Emergency Services responded to a "mass fatality incident" at 6:16 a.m.

"It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don't know who they were", Mr Mora said, adding that they could have been farm workers.

Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told the Associated Press that the immigration status of the SUV passengers was now unknown and under investigation.

Those killed ranged in age from 20 to 55, but at least one of the injured was a minor age 16.

White House officials have urged migrants not to attempt a journey north, insisting the new administration needs more time to establish an orderly process for asylum seekers and others seeking protection in the United States.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents opened an investigation into whether human smuggling was involved, an agency spokeswoman said in a statement hours later.

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