5 die from drowning in Marion County Illinois

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MARION COUNTY, IL - The Patoka Fire Department has been busy all weekend with flash flooding. According to authorities all five victims died from drowning just before midnight.

Officials say the vehicle had been on Interstate 57 in Patoka and became lodged about 150 to 200 feet downstream on the East Fork Creek. An occupant called 911 for help. But shortly after a firefighter arrived on the scene, the car became dislodged and sank. Dive teams recovered the car, which was traveling from Kentucky to Minnesota,

Investigators speculate the victims may have stopped for fuel or dinner and somehow got turned around. Residents who live in the area say the news is heartbreaking.

"It is certainly sad that we lost some people so close to home in such a small community. it makes us sick to our stomachs. We wish this could not have happen especially on a holiday weekend." said Clint Flowers.

The Patoka Fire Chief estimates water levels had risen to 4 to 5 feet above the roadway. The occupants of the car may not have seen the high water until it was too late.

The names of the victims were not immediately released. Authorities were notifying relatives in Kentucky and Minnesota of the deaths.

Patoka is about 60 miles east of St. Louis with a population of about 600.