California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Omar Watson said the driver of the Ford was killed along with 12 of his passengers.
Those killed ranged in age from 20 to 55, while some of the injured were as young as 16.
"Obviously that vehicle is not meant for that many people," he said, per CNN. "It's unfortunate that that number of people were put into that vehicle because there's not enough safety restraints to safely keep those people within the vehicle."
The survivors were rushed to El Centro Regional Medical Center, Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and Pioneers Memorial Hospital in nearby Brawley, while three were airlifted to UC San Diego Health.
Initial reports from the hospitals indicated there were actually 28 people stuffed into the vehicle at the time of the crash.
Police received the call at 6:15 AM; they found the truck had been travelling northbound on the 115, while the SUV was travelling west on Norrish Road.
It is not yet known if the SUV stopped at its stop sign; but they fatally met in the intersection, with the truck T-Boning the left side of the Ford. The driver of the truck escaped with moderate injuries.