Deadly Holtville crash leads to human smuggling investigation

Olivia Sandusky

The Mexican Consulate gave an update Wednesday Morning about the gruesome accident in Holtville.

They’ve confirmed 10 of the 13 victims were Mexican citizens.

CHP officers say, the Ford Expedition they were traveling in was carrying 25 people.

“There’s major intrusive damage inside the SUV. The fire department had to cut the right front seat out of the vehicle. In examining that, after they’ve done that, we see that there are no seats in the rest of the vehicle,” said Chief Omar Watson, CHP.

But that wasn’t the only accident that took place on Tuesday.

About ten minutes prior to the crash, officials say a red suburban carrying 19 undocumented passengers caught fire a few miles away.

“Those individuals were apprehended with the border patrol,” said Carlos Pitenos, an El Centro Border Patrol Spokesperson.

US Customs and Border Protection says both vehicles were part of a wall breach near Interstate 8.

The agency’s surveillance video shows the cars pass through a hole in the border wall near around 6 AM Tuesday morning.

But officers say there was no pursuit prior to the incidents.

“This is not associated with an allied agencies. We’re not sure exactly what caused the collision. There was no law enforcement involved in this incident,” said Chief Watson.

US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement tells NBC Palm Springs they’ve now initiated a human smuggling investigation, and no other details are available.

But social media users are alleging that this wasn’t the Ford Expedition’s first trip across the border.

A post with the caption “American dream” shows a vehicle with the same color and model being filled with passengers in July of 2020.

Agencies haven’t commented on the video, but they say they continue to identify victims and alert families.

“What we have to keep in mind is 13 people died in this crash. We owe it to the families and public to conduct a thorough investigation,” said Chief Watson.

Four patients are currently being treated locally at Desert Regional, three are stable and one remains in critical condition as of Wednesday.

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