Officials are still trying to figure out how 25 people were able to cram themselves into an SUV that collided with a semi truck in California on Tuesday morning.
The accident happened on March 2nd after the SUV pulled out in front of the oncoming semi truck, leaving at least 13 dead and even more injured, including the truck driver, who was hospitalized for moderate injuries.
“This was a big vehicle,” said Insurance Institute for Highway Safety spokesman Russ Rader.
“But it was still at a big disadvantage in a crash with this gravel truck.”
“It struck this SUV in a very vulnerable spot, which is in the side,” Rader said to Fox 10 Phoenix.
“When you look at the video, the front-end of the truck is still embedded in the side of the Expedition and it just shows just how devastating this crash was.”
“Obviously, that vehicle is not meant for that many people,” California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said to ABC 6 News, pointing out that the sheer number of people inside of the car would have made driving and maneuvering more difficult.
“It’s unfortunate that many people were put into that vehicle because there are not enough safety constraints to safely keep those people in that vehicle.”
“It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were,” said Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection in Yuma and El Centro, who speculated that they could have been farm workers.
Other reports claim that the SUV may have been part of a larger human trafficking operation that entered the country through a gap in the border wall.
According to AP News, surveillance video shows a Suburban and an Expedition drive through the opening in the wall together. A short time later, the Suburban caught fire for unknown reasons, but all 19 people inside were able to escape. They were quickly taken into custody by border patrol agents. The Expedition was able to continue on, but eventually collided with the gravel truck, bringing the journey to an end.
“Human smugglers have proven time and again they have little regard for human life,” said Gregory Bovino, the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector chief. “Those who may be contemplating crossing the border illegally should pause to think of the dangers that all too often end in tragedy, tragedies our Border Patrol Agents and first responders are unfortunately very familiar with.”
The accident is still under investigation.