6 patients from deadly Imperial County crash remain hospitalized in San Diego
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Six victims remained hospitalized Wednesday in San Diego County following an Imperial County traffic accident that killed at least 13 people and injured more than a dozen others.
Four patients were flown by air ambulance from El Centro Regional Medical Center to UC San Diego Medical Center on Tuesday, according to the California Highway Patrol.
“The patients are being cared for in the (UC San Diego Medical Center) trauma center located in Hillcrest,” said Jacqueline Carr, executive director of communications for UC San Diego Health.
“Due to privacy protections, patient conditions will not be given unless authorized by the patients.”
Two other patients who were initially taken to Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley were later flown to Scripps Mercy Hospital on Tuesday, the CHP reported.
The collision occurred at about 6:15 a.m. Tuesday, when a tractor- trailer struck an SUV carrying 25 people on state Route 115, just north of Holtville and about 15 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the California Highway Patrol.
A dozen people died at the scene of the wreck, and another victim was pronounced dead a short time later at a hospital, CHP Border Division Chief Omar Watson told reporters.
NBC7 reported the SUV’s driver — a 28-year-old man from Mexicali, Mexico — was one of the victims who died at the scene.
“Some people were ejected onto the pavement, onto the ground, (and) passed away as a result of those injuries,” Watson said during a news conference.
“Other people were found deceased within the vehicle, and some of the wounded were able to pull themselves out of the vehicle.”
The collision occurred when the passenger-packed Ford Expedition pulled onto the highway into the path of the tractor-trailer under circumstances that remain under investigation, Watson said.
The semi was being driven by a 69-year-old El Centro man who suffered injuries described as moderate.
The youngest occupant of the SUV was 16 years old, while the oldest were in their 50s, according to the CHP.
The SUV had only front seats, with the middle and back seats removed to allow more people to fit into the vehicle, Watson said.
Special agents from the Department of Homeland Security responded to the scene of the crash and initiated a human smuggling investigation.
Authorities have not commented on where the contingent had departed from or where it was headed.
Two patients were being treated at El Centro Regional Medical Center and another one was treated at Pioneers Memorial Hospital, according to the CHP.
Four other patients, including the driver of the tractor-trailer, were airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where three were admitted to an intensive-care unit, according to hospital spokesman Todd Burke and the CHP.
The affected stretch of state Route 115 was reopened to through traffic around 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the CHP.