Five children and one adult died in a car wreck on Saturday when the sport utility vehicle they were in drove off a road in Mississippi and plunged into a creek.
Authorities say that the accident happened early Saturday morning about 20 miles southeast of Philadelphia shortly after midnight.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the victims were drowned after their Dodge Durango plunged into the creek, which was swollen from rain.
The five children who died in the wreck were siblings. They have been identified as Daysanna, 9; Duane, 8; Bobby, 7; Quinton, 4; and Kekiameas John, 18 months. A friend of the family, Diane Chickaway, 37, also died in the accident.
The father of the children, Dewayne, was able to escape the vehicle. He remains hospitalized for hypothermia and water inhalation. Deanna, the children’s mother, and Dale, Chickaway’s husband, also survived the accident. All of those in the car were members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. They lived in the Pearl River community east of Philadelphia.
Fox News notes that Dewayne John was driving his family and the Chickaways to Conehatta, another Choctaw community, at the time of the accident. Initial reports show that none of the nine occupants were wearing seatbelts or were in child restraints at the time of the accident.
Officials are testing to see if Dewayne was under the influence of alcohol when the wreck that killed his five children occurred. They do not have official results in and will wait until at least Wednesday to file any charges connected with the accident.
Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson stated of the accident:
“It’s always sad to hear of the death of a tribal member, but today our tribe experienced a great tragedy with the loss of six beautiful Choctaw souls. I cannot begin to imagine what the friends, relatives and loved ones are feeling. There are no words that can express our sincere condolences to such a horrific accident.”
The sheriff stated that the accident was not weather related because it wasn’t raining and there was no ice on the road Saturday night. The creek the vehicle landed in is normally small, but heavy rains in the area caused the water level to be much higher.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol will start reconstructing the accident on Sunday to see what caused the wreck that killed five children and one adult.
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