OSCEOLA, Iowa -- Three teenagers reported missing in Clarke County over the weekend were found dead in a car crash on Tuesday.
Officials says 16-year-olds Elaina Critz and Lauren Barker and 19-year-old Jesse Robinson were last seen Saturday evening in Osceola. On Tuesday, their car was found flipped over in a ditch just a few miles outside of town.
Osceola Police Chief, Marty Duffus, says he remained optimistic as crews searched for days on ground and by air. However, Tuesday morning a Clarke County worker discovered the car belonging to one of the teenagers in a ditch off of Country Club Road, a gravel and unlit road about two-miles south of Osceola.
Duffus says the car was difficult to spot, "You couldn’t see this area from a normal vehicle. You had to be six feet in the air to even see it." Investigators are unsure when or what caused the car to crash but the initial investigation indicates the car left the road, became airborne, hit a tree, then flipped onto its top.
While many in the community a grieving the loss of some of its youngest members, the deaths hit close to the home for law enforcement.
"We're a small community. We know the kids. What brings it a little closer to home is one the kid's mother works in the Law Enforcement Center," says Duffus.
The investigation is ongoing. Autopsies are pending for all three teenagers. Officials say grief counselors will be on site at Clarke Community High School on Wednesday.