A 9-year-old girl and her twin 6-year-old brothers were struck and killed by a pickup truck as they crossed a northern Indiana road to board a school bus before sunrise Tuesday, police said. A fourth child was critically injured and airlifted to a hospital, the AP reports. A Tippecanoe Valley School Corp. bus had stopped and lowered its stop-arm on the road near Rochester around 7am, just before a northbound pickup truck slammed into the children as they crossed the southbound lane, Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocum said. Six-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, died at the scene, he said. The rural Rochester residents were students at nearby Mentone Elementary School.
The siblings' great aunt, Pamela Pugh, told the South Bend Tribune that she was stunned and shaken by their deaths. "I'm just trying to make sense of all of it. There are no words," she said. Slocum said an 11-year-old boy not related to the deceased siblings suffered multiple broken bones when he was also hit by the pickup. That child, Maverik Lowe, was in critical condition at a Fort Wayne hospital and was undergoing surgery. Lowe was conscious and speaking to emergency workers before he was airlifted to the hospital, Slocum said. The pickup driver, 24-year-old Alyssa Shepherd of Rochester, was arrested and charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of passing a school bus when arm signal device is extended, causing bodily injury. (A school bus driver's illegal U-turn allegedly caused a fatal crash.)