Children die as SUV falls into canal

March 10, 2008 10:34:22 PM PDT
A sports utility vehicle fell into a canal in central Mexico, killing nine small children but leaving their teacher unharmed, a city official said.The seven girls and two boys, ages 3 to 8, were heading to their teacher's house for lunch Monday when the SUV with California plates they were traveling in fell into a canal outside the town of Cardenas in Guanajuato state, said Victor Hugo Rodriguez, security director for the municipality of Salamanca.

Rodriguez said the 19-year-old teacher told him she lost control of the vehicle after one of the children pulled on the wheel. The car had only five seats, so some of the children likely traveled without safety belts, he said.

"The teacher had organized a meal in her house," Rodriguez said in a phone interview. "The children were euphoric -- they were very happy to be in the car going to their teacher's house for lunch."

There was no guardrail between the road and the canal, officials said.

Rodriguez said the teacher was thrown from the car and swam to safety. She suffered only minor injuries but was distraught and taken to the hospital for psychological treatment after being questioned by authorities.

Police still were investigating the case, he said.

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