NEW CASTLE COUNTY, Del. — Three teens are dead, a 6-year-old boy is missing and a 16-year-old girl is being called the sole survivor after a vehicle crashed into a Delaware canal the Sunday morning, Delaware State Police said.
At about 9:40 a.m., the vehicle, a Chevy HHR, went into the water on the south side of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal about 1 mile west of the William V. Roth Jr. Bridge and was completely submerged, Master Cpl. Michael Austin of the Delaware State Police said Sunday.
Police are still investigating why it went off the road. A bystander called 911.
First responders found a 16-year-old girl sitting on the banks of the canal, near the scene of the crash, Austin said. She told police that the 18-year-old driver of the vehicle helped her get safely to shore, then jumped back in to rescue the three boys.
First responders found the 18-year-old's body in the water nearby. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Austin said.
"He was a hero," Austin said. "He tried to do everything he could to help the remaining passengers in that vehicle.”
Just before 5 p.m., police say the vehicle was removed from the water, where the 16-year-old and 12-year-old boys were found dead.
The 6-year-old boy remains unaccounted for, police said.
The search and related investigation are active and ongoing, a Sunday evening press release from state police said.
All four males were related, Austin said. The girl, who is from New Castle, was an acquaintance.
The victims' names will be released once their family has been notified of the deaths, police said.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to a family whose lives were changed forever today," Austin said.
A massive response
Search and recovery operations spanned the day.
Dozens of emergency personnel and about 50 vehicles lined the south bank of the canal as divers worked in the water just beyond.
The canal was temporarily closed to commercial traffic, according to police radio, though private vessels were being allowed through.
There were at least four police and fireboats in the water at about 1:30 p.m., plus a couple of small inflatables. Dive teams were used to search the canal, while a helicopter hovered overhead for at least part of the response.
The C&D Canal is flanked on both sides by steep embankments and is about 35 feet deep, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
Follow Jessica Bies, William Bretzger and Matt Moore on Twitter: @JessicaJBies, @billbretz and @MattKenMoore.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware canal car crash: 18-year-old dies trying to save passengers