5 Choctaw Indian Children and one adult died after their Dodge Durango wrecked into a rain-swollen creek in Neshoba County, Mississippi.
The children were all siblings, and the adult victim was a family friend.
Neshoba County Sheriff Tommy Waddell said the victims appear to have drowned after their SUV left a county road 20 miles southeast of Philadelphia just after midnight Saturday.
“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,” Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson said in a statement.
Deputy County Coroner Marshall Prince identified the five children who died as 9-year-old Dasyanna John, 8-year-old Duane John, 7-year-old Bobby John, 4-year-old Quinton John, and 18-month-old Kekaimeas John. The adult victim was Diane Chickaway, 37.
“It looked like he has just run off the road and went into the water,” Prince said. “It was deep and swift. The vehicle was completely submerged.”
According to Sheriff Tommy Waddell all were members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and lived in the Pearl River community east of Philadelphia, where the tribe operates a large casino complex.
Both of the children’s parents and the adult victim’s husband managed to survive the wreck.
It appears none of the nine occupants of the vehicle were wearing seat belts or were in child restraints, Waddell said.
“This accident is not weather-related at all,” he added.