SPARTA, Ky. (AP) - A family of five, reported missing by a relative more than a week ago, drowned when their car plunged off a state highway and into a northern Kentucky creek, police said Friday.
The family was reported missing Jan. 10, and had last been seen
alive shortly after Christmas, police said.
Dennis Howard, a rural letter carrier, spotted the submerged vehicle on Thursday and was among those alerting authorities. He said he had seen tire marks in the road and oil in the water about three weeks ago, but Eagle Creek had been too muddy to see anything in the water.
Thursday "was the first day the water had been clear enough that I could see it," Howard said.
Kentucky State Police identified the dead as Glenn Allen Johnson Jr., 33; Kendra Nicole Johnson, 26; a boy, 5-year-old Sevin Z.
Johnson; and girls Mekenzie Johnson, 2, and Mya Ula-Jean Johnson,
18 months. Police listed their address as Sanders, Ky.
Dave Crawford, a spokesman for police in Hamilton, Ohio, said a
missing person report was taken there Jan. 10 from Marilyn Robbins, a relative in Sanders. The Johnsons had last been seen Dec. 26 or 27, Crawford said.
Relatives of the Johnsons in Sparta declined comment.
State Police said no foul play was suspected. A statement issued
Friday said indications from a preliminary investigation were that the car was traveling west on KY 467 when it left the road, overturned and became submerged in Eagle Creek, near the Ohio River. Police said the exact time and date of the collision was not known.
Autopsy results indicated all five died of drowning, police said. It was not immediately clear why the family was reported missing to Ohio police.
The crash happened on a winding, narrow highway along a sharp
curve where the ground drops into the water alongside the road.
"It's about a lane and a half wide, has some sharp curves," said Kentucky State Police Trooper Chip Perry. "Where the vehicle was found in the creek was just off of one of these sharp curves."
On Friday, there were no guardrails between the highway and the
water, but nine orange and white construction barrels marked the spot where the car was pulled from the creek. The abutments of a nearby railroad bridge were filled with graffiti and religious messages.
Barry Manning of Sparta said he knew some of the family.
"It's sad. It's a well-liked family here," he said.
Howard, the letter carrier, said there have been other accidents at the site and that another car plunged into the creek in the past at the same location. He said he usually takes the curve at 10 to 15 mph and some drivers honk their horns when they approach the curve in case traffic is coming from the other direction.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)