The SUV was traveling westbound when it reached the intersection. It was unclear whether either vehicle stopped before the truck slammed into the driver side of the SUV. The 22-year-old driver of the SUV was among those killed, Sanchez said. The truck driver, 69, was being treated at the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.
ECRMC physicians described the injuries, ranging from lacerations to life-threatening head injuries.
Pioneers Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Karina Lopez said that the facility received three patients from the crash and that two were transferred to other hospitals for advanced care.
Sanchez said the ages of the victims ranged from 16 to 55, but he did not confirm whether they were recent border-crossers or immigrants. “We don’t generally comment on immigration status,” he said.
The El Centro sector office for U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to calls for comment.
The Biden administration has been struggling to contend with a sharp increase in illegal border crossings in recent weeks. U.S. border agents have made more than 70,000 arrests and detentions in each of the past five months, and the number of teenagers and children crossing without a parent has jumped fourfold since last fall.
Biden continues to rely on a Trump-era emergency public health order to rapidly turn back most adult migrants and family groups, but the measures have resulted in sharply higher “recidivism” rates as border-crossers try again and again until they successfully evade capture. White House officials have urged migrants not to attempt a journey north, insisting the new administration needs more time to establish an orderly process for asylum seekers and others seeking protection in the United States.
Nick Miroff contributed to this report.