PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) – Funerals will be held this week for five young siblings and an adult who died when a sport utility vehicle driven by the children’s father careened off an eastern Mississippi road and into a creek.
All of the victims of Saturday’s crash near Philadelphia were members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and lived in the Pearl River community.
Tribe spokeswoman Misty Dreifuss said a funeral for the children, who ranged in age from 18 months to 9 years old, will be held Wednesday at a tribal building in Choctaw. A wake for the siblings was planned for Monday, she said.
A funeral for Dianne Chickaway, a 38-year-old friend of the children’s family, will be held Thursday at Hopewell Baptist Church in Leake County, according to Dreifuss.
“It has hit the community very hard,” Dreifuss said of the 10,000-member tribe.
A statement from Chickaway’s family described her as a “very loving and caring person” with many friends.
“We are struggling to understand this tragedy. We will miss her and also grieve for the other lives that were lost. She now joins a son she had lost many years ago,” the statement says.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, and no charges were immediately filed. A crash reconstruction team from the Mississippi Highway Patrol was to visit the scene Sunday.
Neshoba County Sheriff Tommy Waddell said the victims apparently drowned after their Dodge Durango left a country road and plunged into a rain-swollen creek 20 miles southeast of Philadelphia.
Waddell said the children’s father, Duane John, remained hospitalized Sunday. Their mother, Deanna Jim, and Chickaway’s husband, Dale Chickaway, also survived.
The children who died were identified as 9-year-old Daisyanna John; 8-year-old Duane John; 7-year-old Bobby John; 4-year-old Quinton John; and 18-month-old Kekambas John.
Waddell said it appeared that none of the children was in a child restraint, and that none of the adults was wearing a seat belt.
Dreifuss said four of the five children attended Pearl River Elementary School.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)