The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has identified two young sisters who drowned after their vehicle crashed into the Russian River Monday morning as Kaitlyn and Hailey Markus, 6 and 4, of Jenner.
Their mother tried to save them, but the vehicle began sinking rapidly in 10 to 15 feet of water, a California Highway Patrol officer said.
Witnesses said the truck was traveling about 35 mph when it began to slide due to wet conditions on southbound state Highway 1 south of Jenner around 8:30 a.m., CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.
The mother may have overcorrected, causing the truck to drive off the road and down a 40-foot embankment into the river, Sloat said.
The mother broke out a window in the truck and a passing truck driver jumped into the river to assist. Three nearby Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies removed their equipment and went into the water but could not reach the children, Sloat said.
State Parks officers with diving equipment were able to reach the vehicle and remove the children after about 30 minutes, Sloat said. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Highway 1 at the Jenner Beach trail was closed until around 1:25 p.m.