IMPERIAL COUNTY — Authorities have identified the majority of the 12 survivors as well as the semi-truck driver from the deadly crash on Tuesday, March 2, near Holtville where a semi-truck collided with an SUV with 25 passengers, killing 13 total.
Joe Beltran, a 68-year-old El Centro resident, was identified as the driver of the white 2011 Peterbilt semi-truck, according to a California Highway Patrol (CHP) press release and was said to be in stable condition at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs by the afternoon of the incident.
The driver of the maroon 1997 Ford Expedition was identified as 28-year-old Mexicali resident, but his name has not yet been made public due to authorities wanting to relay the information of the deceased to next of kin, CHP Border Division Chief Omar Watson said in Tuesday in a press conference.
A spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in Calexico told reporters at a press conference Thursday, March 4, that 10 of the 13 dead were identified as Mexican nationals and three still needed to be completely identified.
Of the survivors, 11 of the 12 were identified by CHP by Thursday afternoon, according to a press release. The survivors were identified as follows:
Avelardo Nava, 18-year-old male of Guerrero, Mexico, treated for moderate injuries at Pioneers Memorial Hospital (PMH) in Brawley.
Manuel Rufino, 39-year-old male of Oaxaca, Mexico, treated for moderate injuries at PMH in Brawley.
Darlin Liliana Robledo, 20-year-old female of Tapachula, Mexico, treated for moderate injuries at El Centro Regional Medical Center in El Centro.
Rene Zelando, 30-year-old male of Nayarit, Mexico, treated for major injuries at University of California San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center in San Diego.
Berti Orozco, 21-year-old female of Guatemala City, Guatemala, treated for major injuries at UCSD Medical Center (UCSDMC).
Zeterina Mendoza, 33-year-old female of Guerrero, Mexico, treated for major injuries at UCSDMC.
Camilio Rodriguez, 44-year-old male of Santa Maria Del Oro, Mexico, treated for major injuries at UCSDMC.
Jose Martinez, 16-year-old of Guerrero, Mexico, treated for major injuries at Scripps Mercy Hospital (SMH) in San Diego.
Berlina Cardona, 46-year-old female of Guatemala City, Guatemala, treated for major injuries at SMH.
Jorge Gutierrez Martinez, 24-year-old male, origin unknown, treated for major injuries at Desert Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in Palm Springs.
Esteban Montiel, 22-year-old male, origin unknown, treated for major injuries at DRMC.
“Jane Doe,” 15-year-old female, origin unknown, treated for major injuries at DRMC.
Of those passengers identified, only Mendoza was identified by photo identification, with all other passengers stating their name, date of birth, and residence.
Mario Beltran Mainero of Mexican Consulate Communications told KSWT 13 there are plans to transfer the remains of the 13 deceased from the crash to Mexico, with six of 10 families contacted so far.
“To some of these families, case by case, we will help them with some financial help," Mainero said.
The Mexican Consulate in Calexico told KSWT they will continue to work to identify all the victims and contact their family members.
Calls to the Mexican Consulate and emails to USBP spokespersons by The Desert Review were not returned by press time.
US Customs and Border Protection sources told Fox News Tuesday that the crash happened after a hole was cut in the border fence near Calexico, later confirmed by a USBP press release as previously reported by this newspaper.
The breach occurred before agents reported it at approximately 6:05 a.m., where surveillance video shows two vehicles leaving the breach, according to the release. The second vehicle was described as a red Suburban which was on fire, according to the release and various news agencies.
“We pray for the accident victims and their families during this difficult time,” El Centro Sector USBP Chief Patrol Agent Gregory Bovino said in the Thursday press release.
“Human smugglers have proven time and time again they have little regard for human life,” Bovino said. “Those who may be contemplating cross the border illegally should pause to think of the dangers ….”