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A tragic New Year’s Day car crash in Northeastern Ontario killed three siblings under the age of 12 and left their young friend in hospital with life-threatening injuries, provincial police said Thursday.

Constable Michelle Coulombe said officers are still investigating the crash, which saw a vehicle carrying members of two families strike a rock cut near a highway close to Sudbury, Ont, shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday.

“It’s quite the tragedy,” Constable Coulombe said in a telephone interview. “I can’t even imagine.”

Constable Coulombe said the four children and their mothers were travelling back to their homes in Chelmsford, Ont., just outside Sudbury, in a 2007 Honda Accord at the time of the crash. She said weather conditions at the time of the crash were reasonable, with only a light dusting of snow on local roads.

Police have not yet determined what caused the vehicle to leave Highway 17 and crash into the rock cut, Constable Coulombe said, adding the investigation is continuing. But she said the scope of the tragedy quickly became clear when officers arrived on the scene.

Brothers Destiny and Flourish Osagie, 11 and 10 respectively, were pronounced dead at the scene, she said. Their six-year-old sister, Britney Osagie, was taken to hospital, but later pronounced dead as well.

The crash also badly injured a 10-year-old boy who Constable Coulombe described as a friend of the Osagie family. She said he remains in hospital with undisclosed, life-threatening injuries.

Constable Coulombe said both families were part of the Greater Sudbury Area’s Nigerian community and had called the region home for some time, but offered no further details.

The Osagies’ 45-year-old mother, who was behind the wheel at the time of the crash, was not injured in the collision. Constable Coulombe said another 45-year-old woman, the mother of the 10-year-old boy, sustained minor injuries and has already been released from hospital.

Although the investigation is still in its very early stages, Constable Coulombe said police have already determined alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

“Reconstructionists are still waiting to do an examination of the vehicle,” she said. “And apparently, because it’s an older vehicle … it will take a little longer to get some answers.”

Constable Coulombe said police have not laid any charges in the case and would not comment on whether any are anticipated.

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