Three children and a woman from Maryland were killed when a car they were riding in was struck by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 95 in South Carolina early Friday morning, authorities said.
The children, who were siblings, and their hometown have not been publicly identified pending notification of relatives, said Richard M. Harvey, coroner of Colleton County where the accident occurred. Harvey said he did not know the woman's relationship to the children.
The four victims were in the back seat of a 2001 Ford Taurus when it was struck from behind by a tractor trailer shortly before 4 a.m. Friday, said Sgt. Bob Beres, spokesman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The impact sent both vehicles, which were southbound on I-95 near the town of Yemassee, off the road into a small ravine where they struck several trees, Beres said.
News accounts said the children were 4, 5 and 7 years old.
The truck crushed the car and drove on top of it, trapping the driver and the four backseat passengers, according to the website of Colleton County Fire-Rescue. The driver, who has been identified as Nancy Torres, 27, suffered multiple traumatic injuries, the site said. She was in critical condition at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, S.C.
A male passenger in the front seat was helped out of the car, and crews used chainsaws to removed several large pine trees so that they could cut through the car and free the driver, Fire-Rescue said. She was in critical condition and airlifted to an area medical center, and the male passenger was driven to a nearby hospital, according to Fire-Rescue.
Beres said the driver of the truck was believed to have suffered minor injuries. The cause of the accident, which created a five-mile back-up on I-95, was still under investigation, he said.