updated 6/22/2009 9:10:49 PM ET 2009-06-23T01:10:49

A pickup apparently "mudding" in a shallow Texas pond got stuck with the tailpipe submerged below water, and the five occupants died, authorities said Monday.

Witnesses who called 911 Sunday evening reported smashing a truck window before pulling unconscious victims from the truck, Ector County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Gary Duesler said.

With the truck's tailpipe submerged, exhaust could have been vented into the cab. Duesler said 15 to 30 minutes may have passed before anyone realized the truck's occupants needed help.

The bodies were sent to the Tarrant County medical examiner for autopsies to determine the cause of death.

"It wasn't a drowning," Duesler said. "The whole thing was probably less than 48 inches of water clear across the whole pond. If they'd have gotten out, they could have probably walked out."

The victims were apparently "mudding," where people try to drive through shallow pools created by heavy rainfall. They were at small horse racing track a few miles south of Odessa.

Three victims were family members Lenin Polanco, 42, Martha Isela Caballero, 40, and their 19-year-old daughter, Gladisela Polanco. The others were family friends Maurilio Hernandez, 40, and Adan V. Saucedo, 32.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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