Police to Charge Dad in Houston Fatal Crash

Five children killed after car went into swamped ditch

Police plan to charge a driver who lost control of his car after using his cell phone, sending the vehicle into a rain-swollen ditch and killing five children, a spokesman said Sunday.

Four counts of intoxication manslaughter were being prepared against Chanton Jenkins, 32, Houston police Kese Smith said.

Smith said Jenkins failed a field sobriety test after the crash Saturday, which followed torrential rain storms.

The bodies of three boys -- ages 4, 7 and 11 -- were found inside the vehicle. A search was planned Sunday morning for two girls ages 1 and 3, but morning fog delayed the use of a helicopter, Smith said.

The body of the one of the girls was found later Sunday. The search for the 3-year-old continues.

The driver and another adult escaped from the vehicle, along with a 10-year-old girl.

Smith said the adult passenger, who is Jenkins' brother, told police Jenkins was the father of four of the children in the car, including the 10-year-old girl who escaped. The other two children were believed to be family friends, Smith said.

The current was so strong and the conditions so treacherous that it was several hours before authorities could search the sedan. Police said the vehicle was swept 100 feet from the spot where it left the road.

Jenkins' brother told police rain was falling heavily when Jenkins answered a cell phone. He said Jenkins lost control when he hung up the phone, and the car flew down an embankment into the ditch, Smith said.

Smith did not know if Jenkins had an attorney to speak for him.

At least one other traffic death was blamed on the powerful storms that swept across southeast Texas.

A 76-year-old Fayette County man died after his car got stuck in a flooded underpass in Schulenburg, midway between Houston and San Antonio. Frank Floyd, 76, of Hallettsville, drowned Friday afternoon after he and his wife became trapped after driving into a flooded railroad underpass on U.S. 77, said Schulenburg Police Chief Randy Mican.

"It filled up with water pretty quick and the water kept rising," said Mican, who estimated the water depth reached 8 to 9 feet. "It's not common to flood that much."

Floyd's wife, Mary, 72, managed to escape and was taken to a hospital. Her injuries were not believed life-threatening, the chief said.

By 5 p.m. Saturday, nearly 5 inches of rain had fallen at Houston's Hobby Airport, a record for April 18.

The initial leg of an annual 150-mile charity bike ride involving more than 13,000 cyclists raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society was washed out Saturday by the second consecutive day of heavy rain.

The 25th annual MS 150 had been scheduled for Houston to La Grange. It was scrapped after Friday's torrential rains flooded the Fayette County Fairgrounds, where tents were set up for overnight accommodations for participants. Saturday's continuing downpours made riding treacherous.

"The safety of our participants and volunteers is the first priority," the Lone Star Chapter of the National MS Society said in a statement.

It was the wettest April 17 on record in College Station, where 2.94 inches of rain Friday broke a mark set 30 years ago when 1.68 inches fell. Houston also set a record for the most rain for the day, with the 1.9 inches topping the old mark of 1.85 in 1992.

At least 10 inches of rain fell Friday in Colorado County, about 70 miles west of Houston, closing some roads. Minor property damage from high winds was reported in Brenham and in far North Texas in Sherman and Denison. Hail measuring 1.75 inches in diameter was reported Friday night in Laredo, along with some street flooding in Zapata County in the Rio Grande Valley.

More heavy rain fell Saturday, and nearly all of East Texas and portions of South Texas were under some kind of threatening weather advisory with tornado warnings and watches and flash flood warnings and watches in place.

U.S. 87 south of Cuero, about 80 miles southeast of San Antonio, was closed by a flash flood Saturday. A tornado was spotted in a rural area near Marquez, about 60 miles southeast of Waco. Firefighters reported a barn was toppled by high winds near Rosebud in Milam County, about 35 miles southeast of Waco.

In Robertson County, between College Station and Waco, authorities said a possible tornado during a thunderstorm Saturday morning downed trees and power lines and left some windows broken in Franklin, the county seat. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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