8 Dead in Head-On Highway Crash in California: 'Seatbelts Could Have Saved Lives'

"The amount of bodies is the biggest one, the biggest [crash] that I've seen in my 20-year career," a CHP spokesperson told PEOPLE

<p>Madera County Sheriff

Madera County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

The area of Avenue 7 and Road 22

Eight people died in a head-on car collision on a highway in Madera County, Calif., on Friday morning, California Highway Patrol (CHP) Madera spokesman Javier Ruvalcaba tells PEOPLE.

There were a total of nine adult males in the accident, and there is one sole survivor who suffered major injuries and was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, per Ruvalcaba. The survivor is expected to recover.

The crash occurred around 6:15 a.m. on a two-lane highway, Avenue 7, which is west of Road 22. The fatal collision included a 2001 GMC Safari, which held eight passengers and crashed with a Chevrolet pickup truck, Ruvalcaba tells PEOPLE.

The Chevrolet’s driver died, along with the GMC driver; both were pronounced dead at the scene. Six passengers in the GMC died. The GMC was headed to Lion Farms, per ABC 30.

ABC 30 identified three of the eight victims - Juvenal Jacobo Talavera, 24, from Michoacán, Mexico, Hector Orozco, 33, from Jalisco, Mexico, and Alfredo Morales Sanchez, 30, from Guerrero, Mexico - citing their family members. All seven of the GMC victims resided in Kerman, Calif. Local Fox affiliate KMPH also reported Talavera was one of the victims, also citing his family members.

<p>Juvenal Jacobo Talavera/Facebook</p> Juvenal Jacobo Talavera

Juvenal Jacobo Talavera/Facebook

Juvenal Jacobo Talavera

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Ruvalcaba says that the GMC’s driver and front right passenger were the only victims wearing seatbelts. "We had one full ejection and one part partially ejection," says Ruvalcaba.

"The amount of bodies is the biggest one, the biggest [crash] that I've seen in my 20-year career," Ruvalcaba tells PEOPLE. "It's due to the mass casualty of people."

“Seatbelts could have saved lives. Many lives,” Ruvalcaba told the Los Angeles Times.

Related: 3 University of Wyoming Swimmers Killed in Car Crash

Three hours after the accident, CHP Madera shared a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) announcing, “Avenue 7 is closed from Road 21 to Road 22 due to a multi-fatal crash. There is no ETO at this time. Please find alternate routes.”

Avenue 7 was reopened around 4:30 p.m. local time, CHP Madera confirmed on X. "Ave 7 is now open. All lane closures from the earlier crash have been lifted," the post read.

The CHP has begun investigating the cause of the collision, with a multi-disciplinary accident investigation team leading the investigation. Additionally, the CHP Madera area office has begun a second "side" investigation

Ruvalcaba says CHP received reports of the pick-up truck “weaving in and out of his lane” and swerving before the crash, but it's unknown whether drugs, alcohol, or a medical condition are a factor.

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