5 children die in accident
Family friend also dies after SUV leaves road, submerges in creek
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 12:00 AM
Daisyanna John loved riding her bike and singing. A third grader at Pearl River Elementary School, she and her four siblings drowned after the SUV their father was driving plunged into a rain-swollen creek in rural Neshoba County on Dec. 29.
Her brother, Duane Jr., also in the third grade, loved to play games on his Playstation and ride his bike.
Bobby, 7, and Quinton, 4, loved to play the drums and play together outside.
Bobby was a first grader and Quinton was in pre-kindergarten.
The youngest child, Kekambas, 19 months, loved to play with his toys.
Their father Duane John Sr., 34, of 10270 Road 604, faces six counts of DUI manslaughter in connection with their deaths and the death of an adult family friend after the vehicle he was driving left the roadway and plunged into the creek on Road 107 near the Newton County line.
He was charged two days later after being released from the county hospital where he had been treated for hypothermia.
The accident occurred about 20 miles southwest of Philadelphia, shortly after 12:30 a.m.
Pronounced dead at the scene were siblings Daisyanna Deshay John, 9; Duane Delany John Jr., 8; Bobby Lee John, 7; Quinton Dwayne John, 4; and Kekambas Lee John, 19 months; and Diane Louise Chickaway, 38, of 1017 Fox Trail Road, Sheriff Tommy Waddell said.
Waddell said the victims drowned after the Dodge Durango in which they were riding submerged in the water.
Two other people in the car, the children's mother, Deanna Jim, 28, of 10270 Road 604, and Dale Chickaway, 37, of 1017 Fox Trail Road, were not seriously injured, he said.
All of the victims were members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and lived in the Pearl River community.
Waddell said Monday that the case remained under investigation.
"We are still awaiting a toxicology report and a report from the Mississippi Highway Patrol who is trying to determine the speed of the vehicle before it entered the water," he said.
A crash reconstruction team from MHP investigated the accident.
Waddell said it appeared that none of the children were in child restraints and that none of the adults were wearing seat belts.
Divers from the Philadelphia Fire Department located the vehicle submerged in about 22 feet of water about 2:30 a.m., Fire Chief Pierce Clark said.
The city's new rescue truck was instrumental in the recovery efforts, he said.
"The light tower was able to illuminate the scene for four continuous hours," Clark said. "The big cab was used to get divers warm after being in 39 degree water."
Clark said the doors of the vehicle were closed and survivors apparently exited through a window.
"It was a sad night," he said.
Services for the children were held Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 2 p.m. from Pearl River Facility Building. (See obituaries page 5A)
The children's mother, Deanna Jim, and family issued a statement on Dec. 31.
"Our entire family has experienced a terrible loss," it said. "We will truly miss all the children: Daisyanna, Duane, Bobby, Quinton and Kekambas. We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers coming our way. As this is a family matter we respectfully request time to grieve privately."
Services for Dianne Chickaway were held Thursday at Hopewell Baptist Church in Leake County.
A statement from Chickaway's family described her as a "very loving and caring person" with many friends.
"We are struggling to understand this tragedy. We will miss her and also grieve for the other lives that were lost. She now joins a son she had lost many years ago," the statement said.
Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson called the accident a tragedy.
"It's always sad to hear of the death of a tribal member, but today our tribe experienced a great tragedy with the loss of six beautiful Choctaw souls," Anderson said in a statement issued on Dec. 29.
"There are no words that can express our sincere condolences to such a horrific accident. I join many of you in the outpouring display of love and support shown to the families during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them."
Other units responding to the accident, in addition to Philadelphia Fire and Neshoba Sheriff's departments, were: Dixon Volunteer Fire Department, Choctaw and Newton police departments, Choctaw Fire Department's dive team and Sebastopol and Greenfield volunteer fire departments, among others.