Overhead video of the scene shows the brutal aftermath of the crash, with the knife-wielding semi-truck smashed to the left of the SUV. Both vehicles rested from the side of the road.
There were 27 passengers in the SUV during the crash, said Judy Cruz, executive director of the Emergency Room Department at El Centro Regional Medical Center.
She said 14 people had died on the spot and another person died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Other passengers are being treated at El Centro Regional Medical Center and at Pioneers Memorial Hospital in nearby Brawley.
“Patients are going through a difficult time as you can imagine,”
Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs is caring for four patients from the crash, the hospital’s communications director Todd Burke told CNN. Three of the four patients are in the intensive care unit and all four were flown directly from the scene to the trauma center.
California Highway Patrol Officer Arturo Platero said the vehicle was moving west on Norrish Road near State Route 115 as it was driving “in the direct path” of a large state car traveling north 115. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
CNN has reached out to the person who posted the video of the scene, but they did not respond immediately.
The site of the collapse is in southeastern California approx. 9 miles east of El Centro and approx. 20 km north of the Mexican border.