updated 8/1/2005 5:20:59 PM ET 2005-08-01T21:20:59

A van carrying 20 people overturned several times on the shoulder of a desert highway early Monday, killing five and critically injuring eight others, the California Highway Patrol said.

The van contained seats for only the driver and one passenger, said officer Todd Weichers.

“No one else had seat belts or were properly secured,” he said. “No one except the driver had documentation, so I’m not sure if the victims were migrant farm laborers or illegal aliens.”

The driver had drifted into the center divider and made a hard right turn to get back on Highway 40, causing the vehicle to skid across two lanes and repeatedly overturn, Weichers said.

The crash, which occurred around 5 a.m. about seven miles east of this San Bernardino County town, instantly killed the driver and four passengers.

The 15 others in the van were injured, eight of them critically, Lt. Oscar Medellin said.

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