A community mourns and prepares to bury five young siblings and one adult who were killed when their vehicle entered a creek near the Neshoba-Newton county line. The driver of the SUV has now been charged with multiple counts of DUI manslaughter.
The investigation is revealing more about the tragic deaths that resulted from an SUV crashing in a creek on County Road 107 in Neshoba County where five children and one woman drowned just after midnight Saturday.
Investigators said nine members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians were traveling south in a Dodge Durango when it left the roadway, went down an embankment and plunged into the frigid high waters.
The driver in the crash, 34-year-old Duane John, has been charged with six counts of DUI manslaughter in the deaths of the six victims, according to the Neshoba Democrat.
"When officers and rescue personnel arrived on the scene the vehicle was totally submerged," said Neshoba County Sheriff Tommy Waddell.
Inside the SUV were a family of five siblings, a father, mother and another couple.
The children, ranging in age from 9-years-old to 18-months, and 37-year-old Dianne Lewis Chickaway were unable to escape the water filled vehicle. The siblings are identified as 9-year-old Dasyanna John, Duane John, 8, Bobby John, 7, Quinton John, 4, and 18-month-old Kekaimeas John.
Law officers said the father and driver Duane John, the mother Deanna Jim and Chickaway's husband Dale Chickaway survived.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol is assisting Neshoba County authorities in reconstructing the scene and trying to figure out just what went wrong. Tire tracks can be seen for a considerable distance from where the sports utility vehicle left the pavement to its entry into the creek. Although, questions linger about what happened on the darkened rural stretch of roadway.
"We had an accident approximately a month or so ago where there was a fatality just a few hundred yards from this location," said Sheriff Waddell.
Preliminary investigations attribute a lack of seat belt usage and entrapment for the drownings. Authorities said Duane John, was released from the hospital Monday for injuries related to hypothermia, and now faces criminal charges. Bond has been set at $150,000.
Choctaw Tribal officials said John and Deanna Jim also have two other children who were not involved in the fatal accident. A tribe spokeswoman said a funeral for the children will be held Wednesday at a tribal building in Choctaw.
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