The father of three girls found dead in a vehicle submerged in the Rideau Canal near Kingston, Ont. said he believes the car ended up in the water after one of his daughters got behind the wheel.

The victims have been identified as three sisters: Zainab Shafi, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13. The girl's aunt, Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, was also in the vehicle.

The family was travelling in two separate cars on the way home from a vacation to Niagara Falls, Ont. The girls' mother said the last time she saw her children was when Zainab asked for the car keys.

She told her mother she needed the keys to get some clothes left in the car. When the family woke up the next morning, the vehicle was missing.

Mohammed Shafi said even though his daughter doesn't have her driver's license, she has a history of swiping the family's car keys to impress friends with her driving.

The bodies of the three girls and their aunt were found in a black 2004 Nissan Sentra that was submerged in about three metres of water in the Rideau Canal Tuesday morning. None of the girls knew how to swim.

At present, police believe the car ended up in the canal sometime between midnight and mid-morning on Tuesday.

Autopsies were performed on the victims' bodies in Ottawa on Thursday. However, it is expected to take some time to determine if drowning was the cause of death.

The family is from the north-end Montreal borough of St-Leonard. The girls were born in Afghanistan and have four other siblings. The family moved to Canada two years ago in hopes of offering their children an opportunity for a better life.

"I came to Canada for my children because Afghanistan . . . no safety," said Tobba Yahya, the girls' mother.

Kingston police are now pouring over surveillance video from stores located nearby to try to piece together exactly how the vehicle ended up in water.

Police say there were no tire tracks near the water's edge and the car would have had to pass several barriers, including large rocks and a closed gate, to enter the water near the spot where the vehicle was found.

The car is now in police custody and is being examined by mechanics to see if there were any mechanical problems leading up to the incident.

Investigators will also be looking for any forensic clues to help them determine what happened.

Anyone who may have spotted the black Nissan earlier this week is asked to call Kingston police at 613-549-4660.