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In a car full of gifts and packages, Tina Reid and her three young children met their deaths at the bottom of a chilly creek.

Ms. Reid's car plunged off a steep stone embankment, and a passer-by spotted it Friday in the middle of French Creek, almost completely submerged.

State Police trooper Ray Collins said investigators could not determine how long the late-model Dodge Intrepid, laden with packages and presents, was in the creek because it was covered with snow until last week.

The antenna was the only visible part of the car, a witness said.

Cold water hampered divers' efforts to remove the car, said Dan Minnick of the Crawford County firefighters' scuba team. Crews finally were able to attach a tow line and pull out the car.

The children were identified as Ms. Reid's 9-year-old daughter, Veronica; her 6-year-old daughter, Amanda; and her 3-year-old son, Timothy.

Meadville is about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh.

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