At least 13 people have been confirmed dead Tuesday at the scene of a collision involving an overloaded SUV carrying 25 people and a semi-truck near the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities with the California Highway Patrol confirmed to Fox News.
The crash occurred in Holtville, a town about 125 miles outside of San Diego, according to Fox 11 Los Angeles.
Officers found 12 individuals dead on scene, while another individual died at a local hospital. Meanwhile, the remaining eight individuals were transported to different local hospitals for life threatening injuries.
The update comes after officials from El Centro Regional Medical Center intially reported that 15 people died in the crash.
Authorities do not yet know if the driver of the Ford Expedition, who died in the crash, had stopped at a stop sign before crossing into the path of the big rig around 6:15 a.m., CHP Chief Omar Watson told reporters. The gravel-hauling semitruck hit the left side of the SUV, which appeared to have been pushed off the road.
A Ford Expedition typically seats eight people legally. The CHP did not immediately know why so many occupants had been crammed into the SUV.
“Obviously, that vehicle is not meant for that many people,” Watson said. “It’s unfortunate that that many people were put into that vehicle because there’s not enough safety constraints to safely keep those people in that vehicle.”
The driver of the big rig, which was hauling two trailers of gravel, was hospitalized with moderate injuries.
Officials are working with the Mexican consulate to identify the victims and notify their families of what happened. The victims range in age from 20 to 55. Among the injured, the youngest is 16.
DailyMail reported that officials initially believed the victims involved in the incident were undocumented immigrants. However, authorities told Fox News that the immigration status of the victims remain under investigation.
“I want to address an issue upfront with everybody. We don’t use the term undocumented in the hospitals,” Dr. Adolphe Edward, chief medical officer at El Centro Regional Medical Center, said during the hospital’s news conference. “To us, these folks that came to us are patients.”
An El Centro Regional Medical Center official who was on site when the patients arrived at the hospital said the surviving victims were being treated for “several different life threatening injuries.”
“Several patients did get transferred out those were the most critically ill, the ones that were flown from the scene,” the offical said. “The ones that came into us had injuries ranging from fractures to life threatening head injuries [and] chest injuries.”
The official added that the victims, including those who were transferred out of El Centro Regional Medical Center, appeared to be in stable condition.
A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection in Yuma and El Centro told Fox News that agents responded to the incident at the request of the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department and are on scene to provide assistance to local law enforcement as needed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.