A Ford Expedition traveling on a Southern California highway crashed into a semi truck carrying gravel Tuesday. Authorities believe that the SUV was carrying 25 people and unfortunately, at least 13 were killed in the crash and others are injured.
This breaking news comes to us from KTLA 5 and while not much is known, the details are heartbreaking.
The crash took place about 100 miles east of San Diego and 11 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. An early report from hospital officials stated that 27 people were in the SUV and 15 were killed. However, California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said that 12 people died on scene and one more at the hospital. Footage of the crash scene was released by ONSCENE.TV:
California Highway Patrol said it is not clear what caused the crash. From KTLA 5:
It’s unclear if the SUV had stopped at a stop sign before crossing into the path of the semitruck around 6:15 a.m., Watson said. The truck struck the left side of the SUV, which appeared to have been pushed off the road.
One thing is for sure, the Ford Expedition was not meant to carry so many people:
“Obviously, that vehicle’s 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.”
He said numerous people were ejected. The SUV was a Ford Expedition that would typically seat eight to nine people legally.
It’s harvest season in the area and Macario Mora, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection in Yuma and El Centro, believes the passengers of the SUV could have been farmworkers:
He said the immigration status of those in the SUV was unknown and being investigated.
“It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were,” Mora said, adding that they could have been farmworkers.
Border Patrol is assisting law enforcement with investigating the crash. This is a developing story and we’ll update this post when more information becomes available.
Update 11:18 p.m. CST: The KTLA 5 story is updated with some more details.
Authorities are now investigating whether the Expedition was being used for transportation of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, to ferry farm workers to a field or another purpose. The area is known for its workers that cross the border to farm the fields during a busy season. It is also known for smugglers carrying migrants across the border.
As for how the vehicle was able to transport so many people? The middle and rear rows were removed to make the SUV able to accommodate more people. The Expedition’s occupants ranged in age from 15 to 53-years-old while the driver of the semi-tractor is 68-years-old.
It’s not known what exactly caused the crash. The semi-tractor was traveling down State Highway 115 when the Expedition pulled out in front of it from a side road.The heavy payload of people inside of the Expedition may have been a factor, from KTLA 5:
A 1997 Ford Expedition can carry a maximum payload of 2,000 pounds. If it had 25 people inside, that would easily exceed the payload limit, which taxes the brakes and makes it tougher to steer, said Frank Borris, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation.
“You’re going to have extended stopping distances, delayed reactions to steering inputs and potential over-reaction to any type of high-speed lane change,” said Borris, who now runs a safety consulting business.
This is a developing story and we’ll update this post when more information becomes available.