Five children — all from the same extended family among them students from Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) — died in a car crash early Saturday morning in Prince George’s County, according to Maryland State Police.
Firefighters responded around 5 a.m. to an accident on Route 301 between Route 214 and Pointer Ridge Drive, where a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica veered off the highway and hit multiple trees, ejecting the five children inside and injuring the two adults in the front seats.
The Pacifica was traveling north on Route 301 when, for an unknown reason, it went off the left side of the road and into the woods. It began to spin in the snow-covered field, police said, throwing the children from the car. There was only one vehicle involved in the crash.
Police identified London Dixon, 8, and Paris Dixon, 5, both children of Taylor from Bowie, attended PGCPS Northview Elementary School; and Zion Beard, 14, Rickelle Ricks, 6, and Damari Herald, 15, all from Washington, D.C., as the victims. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Police don’t yet know what caused the crash, but haven’t ruled out any possibilities. They believe the children weren’t properly seat-belted. A standard 2005 Chrysler Pacifica seats six, with two front passenger seats and four rear seats — there were seven passengers in the car.
Dominique R. Taylor, 32, of Bowie, and Cornell D. Simon, 23, of Oxon Hill, survived the crash but suffered injuries. They’re being treated at University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center. Police identified Taylor as the driver of the vehicle and Simon as a front seat passenger.
Gov. Larry Hogan expressed his sympathy in a tweet.
“Deeply saddened by this tragic auto accident in Prince George’s County. Praying for everyone involved, including first responders,” he wrote Saturday.
Later in the afternoon, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks also expressed her sympathy in a tweet in the afternoon.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the five children killed, and the two adults being treated for their injuries, following a tragic accident on Route 301 early this morning. PGPD is assisting @MDSP as they thoroughly investigate this incident,” she wrote Saturday afternoon.
A woman identifying herself as a grandmother to several of the children took to social media Sunday, saying her family was experiencing “loss like no other.”
“My heart is broken,” Sarita Johnson-Herald wrote in the post.
An investigation is ongoing. State police announced just after 11 a.m. that all lanes of Route 301 have been reopened.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for all five victims.