Twenty-five people were in the SUV. Many passengers were thrown onto the road.
The 13 people killed in an accident between their SUV and a large rig in southern California on Tuesday are believed to have entered the United States illegally that morning, crossing a fence at the US-Mexico border in a probable human smuggling attempt, according to Customs and Border Patrol.
“A 10-foot breach” in a fence between the two countries was reported Tuesday morning, and officers examined surveillance video that showed two “vehicles leaving the area near the fence breach,” the police said on Wednesday. border patrol.
A Ford Expedition SUV carrying 25 people collided with the large platform, ejecting many passengers from the SUV onto the road later Tuesday, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Twelve people, including the driver of the SUV, died at the scene and another person from the SUV died in a hospital, the highway patrol said.
“All are suspected of having entered the United States illegally,” a border patrol said.
The accident happened near Holtville in Imperial County, about 125 miles east of San Diego and about 10 miles from the US-Mexico border.
Each survivor was injured to some extent, a highway patrol said. Some have suffered life-threatening head injuries, chest injuries and fractures, officials from the El Centro regional medical center said on Tuesday.
Officers also found 19 people hidden in the brush by a red suburb engulfed in flames and “determined that they had entered the country illegally through the breach in the border fence,” the border patrol said.
“We pray for the victims of the accident and their families during this difficult time,” El Centro sector chief patrol officer Gregory Bovino said in a statement released by the border patrol on Wednesday.
“Human smugglers have proven time and time again that they have little respect for human life,” he added. “Those considering crossing the border illegally should think about the dangers that too often end in tragedy.”
Alex Stone of ABC News contributed to this report.