"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".
Adolphe Edward, chief executive officer of El Centro Regional Medical Centre, added: "The patients are going through a little bit of a hard time as you can imagine".
In an extremely unfortunate incident which once again underlines the need to drive safe and to not pack more occupants than a vehicle would allow for, an SUV with as many as 25 people was hit by a truck in the USA state of California recently.
Watson said 13 people died due to injuries suffered in the crash, 12 at the scene and another afterward at a nearby hospital.
The second was a maroon Ford Expedition carrying 25 passengers that drove into the path of a large truck on State Road 115 on Tuesday. Roberto Velasco, director of North American affairs for Mexico's Foreign Relations Department, confirmed Tuesday on his Twitter account that at least 10 of those killed have been identified as Mexicans.
The accident was near Holtville in Imperial County, about 125 miles east of San Diego and about 10 miles from the U.S. -Mexico border. "For reasons still under investigation, the Ford Expedition entered the intersection in front of the big rig". The overloaded SUV reportedly entered the intersection just before the gravel-filled semitruck struck it. California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Omar Watson noted that the SUV had no seats inside other than the driver's seat and front passenger's seat.
The passengers in the Suburban were all able to get out of the vehicle and were soon apprehended by Border Patrol agents.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a tweet that its investigators will also be looking into the crash.
"At this time it is unknown if alcohol and drugs were a factor in the collision and if seat belts were worn", the report said. The Expedition is built to hold eight people safely, but smugglers are known to pack people into vehicles in extremely unsafe conditions to maximize their profits.
The area where the crash occurred became a major route for illegal border crossings in the late 1990s after heightened enforcement in San Diego pushed migrants to more remote areas, the Associated Press reported. The driver was from Mexicali, Mexico, just across the border, and was among those killed.
He also said the SUV was not fleeing authorities and no pursuit of the vehicle had been underway. The truck's 69-year-old driver was not seriously injured.
The men and women in the SUV ranged in age from 15 to 53, and those who survived had injuries that were minor to severe, including fractures and head trauma, officials said.
Both vehicles came to a halt on a dirt shoulder.
It's not clear if the SUV ran a stop sign or had stopped before entering the highway.