7 children orphaned when family’s SUV overturns

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SAN DIEGO – County authorities are trying to find the next of kin of seven children who were injured and became orphans Friday morning when their family car overturned in Imperial County.

The family had left Lakeside Friday morning and was headed to a new life in Texas. They were driving a red 1999 Ford Expedition that was pulling a heavily loaded U-Haul trailer with all their belongings.  At around 10:30 a.m., the SUV veered off of eastbound Interstate 8 near Plaster City. The father tried to regain control, but the SUV overturned in the center median.

No one in the car was wearing a seatbelt and the parents and seven children were all ejected from the SUV. The 41-year-old father and the 31-year-old mother were killed. The seven children, ages 1 to 12 years old, suffered minor to critical injuries. Three of the children were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, one to Riverside University Hospital, one to Loma Linda and two to Rady Children's Hospital. Several of the children were seriously injured, but all expected to recover.

Wellman Simmonds is the manager of the Silvercrest Apartments in Lakeside where the family lived. He said that investigators from Child Protective Services recently came to the complex to interview the family, but the weren’t successful. The parent purchased the used Explorer and set out to start a new life in Texas, hoping to leave California and their troubles behind. Simmonds said he was there the morning the family left.

“They had two bald tires and the trailer was too low in the front,” he said.

With both parents dead, authorities are looking for next of kin. Until family members are found, the children will be placed at the Polinsky Center as they are released from the hospitals.

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