Four children ages 2 to 14 were among five people killed when a minivan packed with kids rolled on a Louisiana interstate, and seven others remained in critical condition, state police said Sunday.
None of the 13 children in the van was wearing a seatbelt, and all were thrown from the vehicle. The van didn't have enough seatbelts for everyone and probably couldn't have safely carried more than 10, police spokesman Russell Graham said.
Graham said Sunday that police were still investigating, but that family members were too distraught to speak with investigators. Police still did not know why so many people were in the van or where they were headed.
"I just saw the vehicle flip about three or four times and kids flying everywhere," witness Tammy Hall told WAFB-TV. "It looked to be about 10 to 11 kids out of the car. And everyone started stopping, and we went to get her, and you could tell the driver was dead instantly."
Two other children and the GMC Safari's adult passenger were in stable condition. The surviving children ranged from less than a year old to 14, Louisiana State Police said in a news release.
Police identified the dead as the driver, 38-year-old Mona Hines; 2-year-old Ricky Hines Jr.; 12-year-old Lachante Floyd; 14-year-old Edward Barnes; and 14-year-old Ashley Hines.
Authorities have said the van blew a tire, clipped a delivery truck and rolled on Interstate 10 near Baton Rouge.
The driver of the truck was not injured.
Alcohol was not suspected as a factor in the crash.
Most of the people in the van were related, Graham said, though he did not know how. All were believed to be from the Harvey, La., area, he said.
"The Louisiana Legislature just passed a law making it mandatory to wear seatbelts in both the front and back seats," Graham said. "This is a good illustration of why they did."