Search continues after car plunges into water

July 8, 2009 10:07:23 AM PDT
A family is in mourning after five children trapped in a car that had somehow fallen into a swollen drainage ditch died. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

There were eight people in the car when it fell into the creek off of Greens Road just south of Bush Intercontinental Airport. Police say the passenger tells them the driver, Chanton Jenkins, lost control while answering his cell phone.

Crews were able to recover the bodies of four children. They are still looking for one other.

For three hours Saturday afternoon, crews searched the waterway just off Greens Bayou, looking for the Lincoln Continental with five children inside. They eventually located three of the children on Saturday. A fourth child was found Sunday morning. Frantic relatives could do nothing but stand by, watch and pray.

"Why were they out? I have not no idea why. I really don't know. I didn't get that information. It was really really bad today," said Tywanna Harris, a relative of the victims. "They really should have just stayed home."

Authorities say the car was eastbound on Greens Road east of Aldine Westfield around 5pm when it lost control and careened into the water.

"Two adult males were able to get out of the vehicle. One ten-year-old female was also able to exit the vehicle," said Assistant Chief Rick Pattison with the Houston Fire Department.

The water moved so swiftly that crews felt it necessary to search more than a mile downstream. Authorities say the car was found instead not far from where it plunged into the water.

At the scene, police say Jenkins showed signs of intoxication and failed a field sobriety test. He was taken into custody to get a blood sample, but has not been charged with a crime.

"It's a tragedy. We're so heartbroken, really, really heartbroken," said Harris. "I can't say anything. I'm at a loss for words."

The children were a 1-year-old girl, a 3-year-old girl and three boys age 4, 6 and 7, according to police. Police say Jenkins is father of four of the children who were in the car, including the 10-year-old girl, who survived.

The identities of the children have not yet been released

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