HOLTVILLE — At least 13 people were killed on Tuesday (March 2) when a tractor-trailer slammed into a Ford Expedition crammed with 25 adults and children in the dusty farming community of Holtville near the US-Mexico border, officials said.rrHandmade wooden crosses stretched in a line across a patch of dry grass and dirt next to the highway, and a seat covered in what appeared to be blood lay near the SUV, as the desolate highway remained closed Tuesday afternoon.rrThe white tractor trailer cab with yellow trim was still smashed into the wrecked side of the maroon SUV. The entire driver's side of the smaller vehicle was caved in, and the passenger side was flung wide open.rrIt was not immediately clear how fast the vehicles were going, or whether the SUV had observed a stop sign before heading into the intersection of State Route 115 and Norrish Road just outside of Holtville, about 10 miles (16.1 km) north of the border, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said.rrThose killed, who included the driver of the SUV, ranged in age from 20 to 55, and minors as young as 16 were injured, said Mr Omar Watson, chief of the highway patrol's border division. He said the driver was 22 years old.rrSeveral of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle and died on the pavement; others died inside the SUV, Mr Watson said.rrMost of the survivors are Spanish-speaking, a US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said. Despite the presence of CBP agents and Spanish translators, Mr Watson said it was too early to know whether the SUV's occupants were migrant workers or others who might have crossed from Mexico in the overcrowded vehicle.rrAlthough it varies by trim and model year, the Ford Expedition typically is designed to hold five to eight people.rrMr Watson said the CHP was working with the Mexican Consulate to determine who was in the vehicle and notify families of fatalities.rrThe CBP spokesperson, who was not authorised to discuss the case publicly, said the agency was not in pursuit of or aware of the vehicle until the Imperial County Sheriff's Department asked for its help at the crash site.rrThe agency does not know and is not investigating the immigration status of the people at this time.rrThe driver of the tractor-trailer, which was earlier said to be hauling gravel but according to the CHP was not, was also hospitalised with moderate injuries, Mr Watson said.rrThe logo of Havens and Sons Trucking of nearby El Centro was on the side of the truck cab. A person who answered the phone at the company told Reuters it had no comment at this time.rrSeveral of the victims were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, the director of the hospital's emergency room, Ms Judy Cruz, said in a news briefing posted on Facebook.rrAgriculture drives the economy around Holtville and El Centro. Known as the Imperial Valley, the area is a big producer of fruits, vegetables, grain and cattle despite being desert, thanks to irrigation from the Colorado River and a long growing season.rrHospital officials had previously said that 27 people were in the SUV (sport utility vehicle), and that 15 had died, but Mr Watson said there were 25 passengers and 13 fatalities.rrThree victims were flown to other hospitals and seven others were brought to El Centro. One person died at the hospital, Ms Cruz said.rrIn Washington, the National Transportation Safety Board said it will investigate the crash in concert with the California Highway Patrol. The agency's investigator-in-charge was expected to arrive on Wednesday, the NTSB said. REUTERSr
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