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2 dead, 9-year-old driver critical after Mississippi crash

Two child passengers died when a car driven by a 9-year-old boy in rural Mississippi crashed while being pursued by police, authorities said on Monday.

The incident occurred on Friday night after the car turned to avoid a mandatory checkpoint on Highway 35, just north of the town of Forest, about 45 miles east of Jackson.

A Mississippi Highway Patrol officer, seeing the 2003 Mercury Sable elude the checkpoint, gave chase. The car then veered off the road, overturned and collided with a utility pole, said Sergeant Andy West, a highway patrol spokesman.

The driver and one passenger, Brayden Traxler, age 3, were ejected from the car. Traxler and Justin Harrell, 13, died of their injuries.

The 9-year-old driver and a 13-year-old female passenger were taken to a hospital for treatment. The driver remained in critical condition as of early Monday, while the condition of the girl was not available, West said.

Authorities have not released the names of the survivors.

All four children lived in the same house, though their relationship to one another was not immediately clear, West said. Police declined to say to whom the car belonged.

None of the occupants were wearing seat belts, West said.

“Any accident that someone loses their life is tragic, but when you’re dealing with children it just makes it that much more tragic,” he said.

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