While the two adults were safely belted in up front, none of the children in the van were wearing seat belts or any other form of restraint when they were ejected from the van. Four of the children, ranging in age from 2 to 14, were killed, together with the driver of the van.
Police are still investigating the crash but say that it was likely caused by a tire blow-out. Alcohol is not suspected as a factor in the auto accident.
Eyewitness Tammy Hall told police that she saw the van "flip about three or four times and kids flying everywhere," according to an account of the accident aired over WAFB TV. "It looked to be about 10 to 11 kids out of the car…you could tell the driver was dead instantly."
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Graham noted that the Louisiana Legislature had just passed a new law making it mandatory to wear seat belts in both front and back of a vehicle. The car crash "is a good illustration of why they did."
Graham told the Associated Press (AP) that the occupants are from the Harvey, Louisiana area and are believed to be related in some fashion. The driver was identified as Mona Hines, 38. The four children who died were identified by police as Ricky Hines Jr., 2, Lachante Floyd, 12, Edward Barnes and Ashley Hines, both 14.
Two other children, along with the adult passenger, remained in hospital in stable condition following the crash of the GMC Safari van.