Updated at 2 p.m. ET
At least 15 people died in a vehicle accident in Imperial County, California on Tuesday when an overcrowded SUV collided with a truck, according to hospital officials.
“We believe there [were] 27 passengers in this SUV who hit a gravel-filled semi-trailer truck, “said Judy Cruz, director of the emergency department at El Centro Regional Medical Center.
Fourteen people died at the scene of the accident, Cruz said, and one more person died after being rushed to the hospital.
Nine people were taken to nearby hospitals, she said. Doctors want three patients to be moved to other facilities for special treatment, Cruz added.
Imperial County is located in southeastern California on the state borders with Mexico and Arizona. The crash is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol, officials said.
The terrible collision took place north of the city of Holtville, according to the Imperial County Fire Department. The teams reacted to the collision near the intersection of a motorway and a smaller road.
The area named by the fire department is mostly rural, a network of farms and canals south of the Salton Sea.