JENNER, Sonoma County (CBS SF) — Two young sisters were killed when a truck driven by their mother careened off Highway 1 near Jenner early Tuesday, crashing into the Russian River and submerging in 10-15 feet of water, Monte Rio Fire Protection District Chief Steve Baxman said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office identified the victims as 4-year-old Hailey Markus, and her 6-year-old sister Kaitlyn, both from Jenner, CA.

Emergency crews including divers from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department rushed to the scene around 8:30 a.m. after receiving 911 calls of a vehicle in the Russian River near the Jenner Beach Trail with multiple people trapped inside.

Jenner resident Harry Kenney was bird watching on the river bank with his wife when they were startled by the sounds of the crash.

“I looked over and said ‘Oh my goodness, it’s a boat,'” Kenney said. “Somebody threw a big boat in the water. Then I looked again and said ‘Oh no, it’s a car or a truck.’ But before I could tell for sure it went gurgle, gurgle, gurgle and disappeared. There was a bunch of bubbles. Then a woman came up (to the surface) and started screaming — ‘My babies! My babies!'”

CHP Officer Jon Sloat said the mother may have over-corrected, causing the truck to drive off the road and down a 40-foot embankment into the river.

A passing truck driver and others dove into the river, attempting to reach the children, who were being driven to school. But they could not get to them in time. The girls bodies were found inside the submerged 2009 Ford F-250 four-door truck.

Initial California Highway Patrol reports said that there were four people in the vehicle — two adults and two children. The adults were able to escape the vehicle, but the children were trapped inside.

The 32-year-old mother was treated at the scene by paramedics.

Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies were at the scene along with several fire agencies.

Crews pulled the vehicle from the water Tuesday afternoon. The truck is registered to a Joshua and Sarah Marcus.

Highway 1 was closed for several hours until around 1 p.m. as the vehicle was removed from the river.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Comments (8)
  1. Mary says:

    What or who gave you permission to ‘report’ in your 5 o’clock news, who the truck was registered to? They haven’t as yet been ‘officially named’ and there may still be family that has not been notified. Shame on you!, and the Press Democrat online as well for posting pictures of the grieving mother at the accident scene. Have you people no common sense or decency let alone sympathy?

    1. Sam S says:

      Stop your whining, Mary. This is the new age of news and social media. If you don’t like it then just go back to your horse and buggy and your dripping candles.
      Believe me, no one even cares about some people outside of the real Bay Area. It will be a yesterday’s news…..tomorrow and we will all move on to the important things in life such as how are stock options are doing and how well the real estate market is doing in Silicon Valley.

      1. Mel N says:

        Sam, people in that area do not have any real problems in life, so they feel they need to complain about these sort of non-news stories.
        The fact of the matter is that most people that live in these backward places could not make it in Silicon Valley and there for accidents like this one are news when in reality they mean nothing to anyone that maters in the Bay Area.

  2. Susan F says:

    Mel N — The reality is that in a small community, people know one another, directly or through friends or family. There was no call for your cruel comment, or that of Sam S.

  3. Robert Kingstonmuther says:

    I do not think that Sam is being cruel. He is just stating the facts that certain parts of the Bay Area are not economically significant.

    On a separate note, I encourage all of my Internet friends to sign up for the BMW driving school. If this lady could have driven like an expert BMW driver, she would not have made whatever driving mistake she made.
    You do not have to drive a high-end Bimmer like I do to benefit from this amazing experience.

    Love your family and yourself and learn to drive like a BMW expert.

    www bmwusa com/Standard/Content/Explore/Experience/PDS/#mschool

    1. Henry U says:

      You are right about the BMW driving school. I can speed on 101 like no other after having taken one of their courses and I glide by the slow-moving Toyotas, etc. every morning.
      If you see a black Bimmer that fly passed you on 101 and someone giving you the finger, then you know it is me.