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Driver: Mud in tires to blame for crash that injured 8 during funeral service

12-27 calfireinsidetorresaxe

The driver of a vehicle whose car crashed into a tribal building in the east valley yesterday, injuring eight victims attending a funeral service, claimed that "mud in his tires" was to blame for the crash, according to Officer Jackie Quintero, public information officer for the California Highway Patrol.

Quintero told News Channel 3 that the cause of the accident is still under investigation.

The driver, a 21-year-old Coachella resident, did not show signs of intoxication and was not cited for speed.

According to a Cal Fire spokesperson, reports of the crash first came in at approximately 5:09 p.m on Thursday. The building is located on the 66000 block of Martinez Road, inside Torres Martinez tribal lands near Thermal.

News Channel 3 crew at the scene confirmed the building is not a church, but a tribal hall building used for a variety of events

"I had got a phone call from one of the tribal members hysterically telling me to call the cops because a car drove through the building," said Joseph Mirelez, tribal vice-chairman.

Firefighters evaluated a total of 11 victims. According to Cal Fire, three were uninjured while eight were injured. Of those eight victims, four suffered minor injuries, three moderate, and one serious.

Quintero told News Channel 3 on Friday, however, that no was injured severely and that no one was at risk of dying due to injuries sustained in the accident. No further updates will be provided on the conditions of the patients.

CHP confirmed the driver of the vehicle was among the people transported to the hospital.

Police at the scene confirmed the crash was accidental. He was released later that night.

"Unknown reason why he didn't make the turn, ended up going through the south side of the building all the way through a funeral viewing," said CHP Sgt. Patrick Williams.

"Something needs to happen to the individual that caused all of this damage because we have a lot of tribal members and community members that were here, that have been highly affected either physically or emotionally," Mirelez said.

The driver of the involved vehicle was not in custody at the time of this publication.

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Sam Benson Smith

Sam Benson Smith is the Digital Content Director for Gulf California Broadcasting. Learn more about Sam here.

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