CHARLESTON -- A van carrying 17 occupants resulted in at least two fatalities and one person seriously injured after the vehicle overturned several times and landed in water in a low-lying field near Charleston early today.
According to Sgt. Larry Plunkett Jr., public information officer for Troop E of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, at approximately 5:30 a.m. in Mississippi County on Interstate 57 at the 6 mile-marker, a single-vehicle accident occurred as a white passenger van believed to be traveling out of Indiana ran off the right side of the roadway and made a couple of corrections. The vehicle then overturned several times and landed in the field.
The van, which is believed to be a rental vehicle, was carrying 17 occupants with eight of those being adults and the rest children, Plunkett said.
"There were two fatalities and one person is seriously injured. The majority of the injuries were among the adults. The children received fairly moderate or minor injuries," Plunkett said.
Several victims were air-lifted and transported to Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston and Southeast Missouri Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau.
Identities of the victims remain unknown at this point, Plunkett said at press time. However, authorities indicated the two fatalities were adults.
"We're trying to find out who they (the victims) are and where they're from and where they were en route to," Plunkett said. "It's a hard time getting the information since most of the people injured were the adults. The big thing this morning, though, was to get everybody out of the scene due to the cold weather."
A reconstruction accident was conducted by the Patrol this morning and the investigation continues, Plunkett noted. Mississippi County Sheriff's Department was the first to respond to the scene with all local ambulance and fire rescue teams assisting.