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At least 15 people dead after SUV, semitruck collide in Southern California, hospital says

2 min read
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, March 2, 2021.

At least 15 people died after an SUV with dozens of passengers collided with a semitruck carrying gravel near the U.S.-Mexico border in California on Tuesday morning, according to officials with El Centro Regional Medical Center.

“We believe there was 27 passengers in this SUV that struck a semitruck full of gravel,” emergency room managing director Judy Cruz said in a Facebook Live video.

At least 14 people died at the scene of the “major accident,” Cruz said. Three people were flown from the scene to a hospital, she said. Seven patients were taken to El Centro, where one person died, she said. Cruz said the hospital had called for air support from other agencies to transport three of the patients to other facilities.

Two patients were taken to Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley, California, Cruz said.

Four patients were airlifted to the trauma center at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, California, hospital spokesperson Todd Burke said. Three were in intensive care.

California Highway Patrol Officer Jack Sanchez told USA TODAY the crash involved a big rig and a Ford Expedition at the intersection of State Route 115 and Norrish Road near Holtville, California. The big rig driver suffered “multiple injuries,” Sanchez said.

Holtville is about 50 miles west of Arizona and 10 miles north of the border.

Sanchez confirmed at least 12 fatalities.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

“The patients are of course going through a little bit of a difficult time as you can imagine,” said Dr. Adolphe Edward, chief executive officer at the hospital. “This is a major accident. We are taking care of them in the emergency room department.”

The Imperial County emergency services office responded to the “mass fatality incident”at 6:16 a.m. PT, deputy fire chief Sal Flores told the L.A. Times. Imperial County Fire department told USA TODAY multiple agencies were responding to the scene. 

Customs and Border Protection was on the scene to “help” the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and was not involved in the incident, spokesperson Macario Mora told USA TODAY.

The county sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This story is developing.

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