SONOMA COUNTY (KRON) — Two young girls died Tuesday morning when their car went into the Russian River in Jenner, fire officials said.
Two adults were found alive in the submerged car, according to officials with the California Highway Patrol.
The Sheriff’s Office has identified the victims involved as Hailey Markus, a 4-year-old girl, and her sister, Kaitlyn Markus, 6-years-old; both from Jenner.
The crash was reported at 8:29 a.m. on southbound SR 1 at the Jenner Beach Trail.
The mother tried to reach her daughters in the back seat of a Ford F-250 four-door truck she had been driving after it went into the Russian River near Jenner, but it began sinking rapidly in 10-15 feet of water and the girls died, a California Highway Patrol officer said.
Witnesses said the truck was traveling about 35 mph when it began to slide on wet, southbound state Highway 1 in Sonoma County south of Jenner around 8:30 a.m., CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.
The mother may have overcorrected, causing the truck to drive off the road and down a 40-foot embankment into the river, Sloat said.
The mother broke out a window in the truck and a passing truck driver jumped into the river to assist. Three nearby Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies removed their equipment and went into the water but could not reach the children, Sloat said.
State Parks officers with diving equipment were able to reach the vehicle and remove the children after about 30 minutes, Sloat said. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
SR 1 was closed in both directions.