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Four dead after car rolls into New York City waterway

Fatal Crash copyright Midwest Communications, Inc.
Fatal Crash copyright Midwest Communications, Inc.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four passengers were killed after a car plunged into a waterway that flows into New York City's East River late on Friday night, police and fire officials said.

Rescue divers responding to a 911 call pulled four occupants - two men and two women - from the vehicle submerged in Steinway Creek. The four were declared dead on arrival at area hospitals, New York Police Department spokesman Adam Navarro said.

The fifth occupant, a 20-year-old man who was the driver, escaped the car on his own with minor injuries. He took a breathalyzer test and was found to be sober and was taken to a hospital where his condition was described as stable, police said.

Police identified the dead as Darius Fletcher, 21; Jada Monique Butts, 19; Jaleel Furtado, 20; and Crystal Gravely, 19. All four lived in East Elmhurst, a middle-class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens.

Police were unable to confirm reports in local newspapers that the five were friends celebrating a birthday, but confirmed it would have been Gravely's 20th birthday on Saturday.

Police were still investigating the accident, but said that the car, a 2009 Honda Accord, hit a curb in a dead-end street near the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria, Queens, at about 10:30 p.m. (0230 GMT) before rolling into the creek.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson and Jonathan Allen; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Dan Grebler)

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