PETALUMA, Calif. — Two sisters, ages 7 and 9, were killed when a car their mother was driving crashed and flipped into a Sonoma County river.

Alejandra Hernandez, 26, was driving the sedan when she lost control and went down a wooded embankment and into the Petaluma River, where the car overturned and immediately sank, the California Highway Patrol said.

A man who witnessed the accident ran down to help and found Hernandez, of Rohnert Park, on top of the car. She told him there were children inside, but the witness was unable to reach them, the CHP said.

Firefighters and eight Petaluma police officers scaled down the embankment and entered the water to rescue the children. The girls were brought up to the road and taken to a hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

Hernandez suffered minor injuries and was not admitted to the hospital, the CHP said.

Photos from the scene showed the car completely submerged.

An investigation is ongoing to determine why Hernandez, who was found to be unlicensed, lost control, the CHP said.

The girls, Delilah Gonzalez, 9, and Sayra Gonzalez, 7, attended Waldo Rohnert Elementary School in Rohnert Park.

The girls were not in child car seats, as required by law, investigators said.

In a similar accident last week also in Sonoma County, two young sisters, ages 4 and 6, died when the pickup their mother was driving crashed into the Russian River.

“The fact that we’ve had two of these in several days, it’s weighing heavily on a lot of people right now. I have not seen anything like this in Sonoma County since I’ve been here” the past 16 years,” CHP Officer Joan Sloat told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.


Information from: KGO-TV.