By The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA, Miss. — A man has been charged with six counts of DUI manslaughter after the weekend crash of an SUV into a rain-swollen creek in Mississippi that killed his five children and one adult, authorities said Monday.
Duane John, 34, was charged with the six felony counts after his release Monday from a local hospital where he had been taken after Saturday’s crash, Neshoba County Sheriff Tommy Waddell told The Associated Press by telephone. He said John was being held at the county jail on a $150,000 bond and hadn’t immediately retained a lawyer.
John couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Authorities said the sport utility vehicle driven by John careened off a road Saturday near the community of Philadelphia in eastern Mississippi.
“I’m not going to go into a lot of the details we have, but the evidence we’ve gathered is that it’s alcohol-related,” Waddell said when asked about the charges.
The sheriff told AP the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
All of the victims of Saturday’s crash were members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and had 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 funeral for Dianne Chickaway,a 38-year-old friend of the children’s family, is to be held Thursday at Hopewell Baptist Church in Leake County, according to Dreifuss.
“It has hit the community very hard,” Dreifuss said of the effect on the 10,000-member tribe.
Waddell said previously that 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 survived along with the mother of the children, Deanna Jim, and Chickaway’s husband, Dale Chickaway.
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.
Master Sgt. Johnny Poulos, a Highway Patrol spokesman, said an accident reconstruction team was at the scene on Sunday.
Waddell said the investigation is continuing.