7 Earlimart Residents Who Died In SUV Crash Had Drowned

The seven people who died when the sport utility vehicle they were riding in struck a dirt embankment and overturned into a canal all died of drowning, according to the autopsy report.

The white Ford Explorer was speeding at more than 55 mph Saturday night near Kettleman City about 50 miles south of Fresno when the driver, Sergia Salas, 31, lost control, authorities said.

The vehicle ran up a dirt embankment, rolled and landed upside down
in the canal with 5 feet of water.

An autopsy showed that Salas, a man and five children all drowned in the vehicle, rather than dying of injuries from the crash, said Assistant Kings County Sheriff Brian Wheat.

Two people - Dalia Olvera, 23, and Esmerelda Pompa, 10 - survived the accident.

The other dead were identified as Horacio Flores, 32; Celeda Pompa, 13; Arcelia Flores, 10; Jennifer Salas, 7; Miguel Flores, 3; and Horacio Flores Jr., 5 months.

All were from Earlimart.

The cause of the crash remained under investigation.

California Highway Patrol officers were looking into whether an argument between Salas and her husband contributed to the crash.

The Explorer was legally equipped to seat five people but carried nine, according to the CHP.

A small mattress with blankets was found at the rear of the cargo area, where three children sat.

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