Updated at 2 p.m. ET
At least 15 people died in a vehicle crash in Imperial County, Calif., on Tuesday when a crowded SUV collided with a truck, according to hospital officials.
"We believe there [were] 27 passengers in this SUV that struck a semitruck full of gravel," said Judy Cruz, managing director of the emergency department at the El Centro Regional Medical Center.
Fourteen people died at the scene of the crash, Cruz said, and another person died after being taken to the hospital.
Nine people were transported to nearby hospitals, she said. Doctors want three patients to be airlifted to other facilities for specialty care, Cruz added.
Imperial County is in southeastern California, sitting along the state's borders with Mexico and Arizona. The crash is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol, officials said.
The terrible collision took place north of the city of Holtville, according to the Imperial County Fire Department, which said its emergency teams responded to the collision near the intersection of a highway and a smaller road.
The area cited by the fire department is largely rural, a grid of farms and canals south of the Salton Sea.