A pickup truck carrying 23 people veered off a Texas highway and crashed late Sunday, killing 14 and injuring 9 others.
The Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup was was traveling north on U.S. Highway 59 when it crashed into two large trees near Goliad, Texas, about 100 miles southeast of San Antonio, Texas Highway Patrol trooper Gerald Bryant told KTRK-TV.
Some of the victims were airlifted to hospitals in San Antonio and Corpus Christi. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, police said.
"In my 38 years as an officer, this is one of the worst fatalities I have been to," Bryant said. "I have never seen where we had that many in a vehicle."
The victims were crammed in the cab and bed of the pickup truck.
"Based on the mode of travel, the way that the people were in the vehicle, it's a high probability there were illegal immigrants traveling northbound on 59," Texas Dept. of Safety Lt. Glen Garrett told KIII-TV.
According to CNN, U.S. border patrol and "immigration and customs enforcement agents were called to the scene." Goliad County is about 150 miles northeast of the Mexican border.
The names of the victims have yet to be released. According to MySanAntonio.com, the vehicle was registered to an owner in Houston.
"It is not uncommon for human traffickers to try to maximize profits by over-loading vehicles with illegal immigrants," the Associated Press said. "In April, nine Mexican immigrants died near the border when the teenage driver of their van crashed after fleeing Border Patrol. There were 18 people in that minivan."