Fourteen people are dead, including two young girls, and nine injured after a heavily overloaded truck crashed into two trees in Texas on Sunday evening.
The truck was carrying 23 people, all of whom were injured or killed.
“This is normally a crash [in which] you see two, maybe three people killed, but given that there were 23 people in the vehicle, that made it so much worse,” Trooper Gerald Bryant of the Texas Department of Public Safety told the Los Angeles Times.
According to Bryant, the white 2000 Ford F-250 Super Duty truck went off the right side of the road on northbound U.S. 59, a major artery between San Antonio and the Mexican border, 10 miles southwest of Goliad, Texas. Officials are currently investigating the cause of the crash, suspecting a possible tire blowout.
Of the 11 who died at the scene of the accident, Bryant said, six were pinned inside the vehicle and five more were either thrown from the truck’s cabin or from its bed. Two of those killed appeared to be girls between the ages of 12 and 14.
Photos of the truck showed catastrophic damage to the front half of the vehicle, with the dash crushed partly into the cabin.
“They were traveling at a pretty good speed to cause the amount of damage to the vehicle that they did,” Bryant said.
Many of the people in the truck did not have identification and are suspected of being undocumented immigrants; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Honduran and Mexican consulates have been asked for help in identifying the victims.
U.S. immigration officials did not immediately return a message seeking information, but have identified the truck’s passengers as being from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
The driver died on the scene, Bryant said. Officials don’t know his nationality yet. The truck was registered to someone else, a Texas resident, and had not been reported stolen.
Bryant said police often stop undocumented immigrants on U.S. 59 riding in vehicles overloaded and that there have been similar accidents before, but “we have not had it to this magnitude.”
Ambulances and helicopters took the surviving crash victims to hospitals in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Beeville and Victoria. The Express-News reported that blood stains and mangled trees still marked the crash site on Monday morning.
“What’s upsetting to me is the laws that were broken and that we taxpayers have to pay for the medical care,” Linda Smith, a Goliad resident, told the Express-News.