A Mississippi man has been charged with six counts of DUI manslaughter after an SUV carrying members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians drove off an embankment into the frigid waters of a rain-swollen creek over the weekend, killing five of his children and a woman.
The man, Duane John, 34, was at the wheel when the vehicle shot off the roadway on Saturday shortly after midnight near the Neshoba-Newton county line in eastern Mississippi, authorities said. He was charged with six felonies Monday after his release from a hospital where he was treated for hypothermia.
The children, ages 18 months to 9 years, and a 37-year-old woman identified as Dianne Lewis Chickaway drowned, NBC station WLBT of Jackson, Miss., reported. Surviving were John, the children's father; their mother, Deanna Jim; and Chickaway's husband, Dale Chickaway.
"When officers and rescue personnel arrived on the scene, the vehicle was totally submerged," Neshoba County Sheriff Tommy Waddell said.
Choctaw Tribal officials said John and Deanna Jim also have two other children who weren't involved in the accident. Tribal spokeswoman Misti Dreifuss said a funeral for the children would be Wednesday at a tribal building in Choctaw. Chickaway's funeral was set for Thursday.
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, even though they were driving late at night along a dangerous stretch of roadway.
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