SONOMA COUNTY (BCN) - Two little girls, died this morning when a truck went into the Russian River in Jenner, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and California Highway Patrol.
According to the CHP, a 32-year-old woman was driving a Ford F-250 on Highway 1 at about 35 mph when the truck began to slide on a wet roadway. The girls were identified as 4-year-old Hailey Markus and her sister, 6-year-old Kaitlyn Markus, both from Jenner.
Authorities say the woman, who is the girls' mother, may have overcorrected and it went down a 40-foot embankment. The truck went into the Russian River and quickly sank in about 15 to 20 feet of water.
A truck driver passing by stopped and tried to help in addition to three deputies. They were unable to reach the children.
The girls were declared dead at the scene.
Two adults who were in the car were found alive in the water, according to initial information from the CHP.
Harry Kenney and his wife were bird watching nearby.
"I said, 'Oh my goodness, it's a boat. Somebody threw a big boat in there.' And, then I looked again and said, 'Oh no, it's a car or a truck.' And then, before I could recognize if it was even a car or a truck, it went gurgle, gurgle, gurgle; it went down and a big bunch of bubbles came up to the surface and then a woman came up shortly after that screaming, 'My babies, my babies,'" said Mr. Kenney.
"We're looking at just a tragic accident. When we got out there, we spoke to some witnesses who saw here driving maybe 25 to 30 miles per hour. It was just unusually slick conditions on Highway 1 this morning," said
Officer Jonathan Sloat of the California Highway Patrol.
"We're very close; all of us. And, their little girls play with my granddaughter. They're all around. They were frolicking and playing yesterday," said Mary Cabot, the family's neighbor. "We're just gonna circle around the family and do whatever we need to do to help them get through this. It's just a horrible tragedy. But, again, it's the community that will come together," said another neighbor, Michelle Irwin.
Additional details have not been released.