Five young siblings -- one 18 months old -- and a woman died after a sports utility vehicle went off a rural road in eastern Mississippi and into a creek, authorities said.
The parents of the five children survived the crash, as did the husband of the woman who was killed, Neshoba County Sheriff Tommy Waddell said.
The crash occurred about 20 miles southeast of the town of Philadelphia, home to about 7,500 residents.
“There a lot of sadness. You know, we are a somewhat small community,” Waddell told the Los Angeles Times. “In most cases you know of or you know a lot of the families… I was familiar with some of the family members myself.”
The accident occurred about 12:35 a.m. Saturday. When authorities arrived on scene, the car was about 10 feet underwater, Waddell said. A dive team from a local fire department had to retrieve the bodies.
The driver and father, Dewayne John, was in a local hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia and water inhalation, Waddell said.
Authorities identified the children killed as Kekaimeas John, 18 months; Quinton John, 4; Bobby John, 7; Duane John, 8; and Dasyanna John, 9. Their mother Deanna Jim, 28, survived.
Also killed was family friend Diane Chickaway, 37. Her husband, Dale Chickaway, 37, survived, Waddell said.
Waddell said weather did not play a role in the crash, although the creek was significantly higher than normal because of recent rains. The road was not icy and it was not raining at the time, he said.
None of the passengers appeared to have been wearing seat belts, Waddell said. The mother of the children told authorities her 18-month-old was strapped into a car seat, although rescuers did not find the child in the car seat when the body was recovered.