Three people were killed, including two young girls, and seven others were injured in a significant crash on the 10 Freeway in Riverside County Sunday morning. 

The crash happened around 7:30 a.m. in Whitewater, a town located about 15 minutes northwest of Palm Springs. Officers with the California Highway Patrol responded to the scene on the eastbound 10 Freeway just west Haugen-Lehmann Way.  

A preliminary investigation found that a 31-year-old man from Indio was traveling eastbound on the 10 Freeway, west of Haugen-Lehmann Way, in the number three lane in a black 2022 Tesla Model 3, according to a CHP news release. A 39-year-old man from Anaheim in a red 2001 Chevrolet Suburban was traveling in the same direction in the number two lane when the vehicles crashed into one another for an unknown reason that officials are continuing to investigate.  

The collision caused the Suburban’s driver to lose control and crash into the center divider. The impact caused the vehicle to overturn and eject six of the vehicle’s passengers. A seventh passenger was partially ejected.  

An 8-year-old girl, a 12-year-old girl and a 31-year-old woman were declared dead at the scene. Four other passengers, a 3-year-old girl, a 7-year-old male, an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy, sustained major injuries and were taken to the hospital by helicopter, authorities said. The driver of the Suburban sustained moderate injuries, while the 41-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries.  

Riverside County multiple fatal traffic crash
Three people were killed, including two young girls, and seven others were injured in a two-car crash on the eastbound 10 Freeway in Whitewater, a town 15 minutes northwest of Palm Springs on May 14, 2023. (InlandNews)

“All occupants within the Chevrolet were relatives and residents of Anaheim, California,” the release noted, and added that preliminary information suggests not all the passengers in the Suburban were wearing “safety restraint systems or seatbelts.”  

The 31-year-old man in the Tesla was uninjured in the accident.  

Authorities did not say whether alcohol and or drugs was a factor in the crash.  

The 10 Freeway experienced a major backup as eastbound lanes at Main Street were closed for the investigation and cleanup. Traffic was diverted off Main Street to Railroad Avenue, where vehicles could get back on eastbound Interstate 10 at Haugen-Lehmann Way.

All lanes of the eastbound 10 Freeway were opened at 3:30 p.m.