Six girls, including a 1-year-old baby, were killed in a car crash on a Tennessee highway early Sunday, officials said.
First responders found a vehicle upside down with extensive damage in Robertson County, about 30 miles north of Nashville, just before 2 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) Sunday, Robertson County Emergency Medical Services said in a news release.
Six girls, ages 1 to 18, were believed to have died after they were ejected from the vehicle, the department said. Their exact ages were not immediately clear.
Two adults were also injured, one of them a woman who was critically hurt after appearing to have also been thrown from the vehicle, the department said. The woman was flown by air ambulance to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. A man who said he had been in the vehicle also suffered minor injuries and was taken to TriStar Skyline Trauma Center in Nashville.
The victims were not immediately identified, and it was not clear whether they were related.
A second vehicle was found near the damaged car. The driver did not appear to be injured, the emergency medical services department said.
Four Advanced Life Support ambulances and an air ambulance responded, it said.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear early Monday. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating.
Noting the “incredible difficulty of this scene,” authorities said interdepartmental critical incident stress management teams were helping those who responded to the crash, with further counseling services to be provided.
“These are things sometimes I don’t believe people are necessarily meant to see as human beings,” Robertson County Emergency Medical Services Director/Chief Brent Dyer said, NBC affiliate WSMV of Nashville reported.
Dyer said he was heartbroken that children had died. “It’s one of the hardest things we’ll ever do, as anybody in emergency services, is to realize that you can’t do something for a child,” he said.
It is still unclear whether the victims were wearing seat belts or were properly restrained. Dyer implored drivers to ensure children are safely secured in vehicles.
“I beg people to put your children in the proper restraint devices, and I beg everyone driving on the road to think about the outcome of impatience and the outcome of intolerance,” he said.