The crash happened around 5:30 a.m. on the northbound New England Thruway, at Exit 13 for Conner Street, in the Eastchester section at the north end of Co-Op City.
The SUV, a Cadillac Escalade from a car service, veered out of control and slammed head-on into a wall near the exit ramp.
Firefighters had to rescue eight passengers -- five men and three women, all in their 20s and 30s -- from the crushed SUV. As of Saturday afternoon, five patients remain in critical condition, one is in serious condition and three are in fair condition.
Nine victims were rushed to Jacobi Hospital.
Police were on the scene, and the entrance and exit ramps to the Thurway were closed for the accident investigation.
Investigators are looking into whether speed was a factor when the 32-year-old driver lost control. They found about 300 feet of skid marks leading to the wall.
All lanes on the Thruway remained open, but rubbernecking delays were reported.