Dayton Daily News

CRASH IN CALIF. CLAIMS 15 LIVES

- By Elliot Spagat

Thirteen HOLTVILLE, CALIF. — people were killed Tuesday when an SUV carrying 25 people and a semitruck collided on a Southern California highway near the U.S.-Mexico border, authoritie­s said.

Twelve people were found dead when first responders reached the highway, which winds through fields in the agricultur­al southeaste­rn corner of California. Another person died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said.

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., Watson said. The gravel-hauling semitruck hit the left side of the SUV, which appeared to have been pushed off the road that’s about 100 miles east of San Diego.

Watson described a grisly scene outside Holtville, a rural town about 11 miles north of the border with farms that grow vegetables and alfalfa for cattle feed. Officers arrived to find that some people had been ejected from the SUV onto the ground. Some of the passengers had pulled themselves from the wreckage, and others who were injured were wandering around.

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.

El Centro Regional Medical Center officials earlier reported there were 15 killed and more people in the SUV. Seven people were taken to that hospital, including one person who later died.

Others from the SUV were flown or sent to other hospitals for injuries that included fractures and head trauma. Four were flown to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where one person is in critical condition and the others are stable, spokesman Todd Burke said.

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 ?? GREGORY BULL / AP ?? Thirteen people were killed Tuesday when an SUV carrying 25 people and a semitruck collided on a Southern California highway, authoritie­s said.
GREGORY BULL / AP Thirteen people were killed Tuesday when an SUV carrying 25 people and a semitruck collided on a Southern California highway, authoritie­s said.

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