At least 15 people have died after an SUV with dozens of passengers collided with a semi-trailer carrying gravel near the US-Mexico border in California on Tuesday morning, officials at El Centro Regional Medical Center said.
“We believe there were 27 passengers in this SUV who hit a semi-trailer full of gravel,” Emergency General Manager Judy Cruz said in a Facebook Live video.
At least 14 people died at the scene of the “major accident,” said Cruz. Three people were airlifted to a hospital, she said. Seven patients were taken to El Centro, where one person died. Two patients were taken to Pioneer Hospital, she said.
“Patients are of course going through a bit of a rough time as you can imagine,” said Dr Adolphe Edward, CEO of the hospital. “It’s a major accident. We take care of them in the emergency department.”
Cruz said the hospital had requested air support from other agencies to transport three of the patients to other facilities.
The Imperial County Emergency Services Office responded to the “mass incident” at 6:16 a.m. PT, Deputy Fire Chief Sal Flores told the LA Times. The Imperial County Fire Department told USA TODAY that several agencies were responding to the scene.
California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Mary Bailey told USA TODAY there had been an “incident” and staff were on the scene.
Customs and border protection were on scene to “assist” the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and were not involved in the incident, spokesman Macario Mora told USA TODAY.
The county sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This story is developing.