Sunday 17 December 2017

Mum kills herself and three children by driving into river

Paul Lavelle in New York

A DISTRAUGHT mother killed herself and three of her children by deliberately driving into New York's Hudson River, but another youngster managed to swim to safety.

Lashanda Armstrong (25) drove her car off a boat ramp, minutes after what police said was a "domestic incident" at her home in the city of Newburgh.

Ms Armstrong, sons Landon, (5) and Lance (2), and 11-month-old daughter Lainaina all drowned in the tragic incident.

However, Lashaun (10) managed to escape from a window and swam to the bank, where he was picked up by a passer-by.

Deeply shocked, he had difficulty describing what had happened but firefighters eventually pieced events together and began searching the river, about 60 miles upstream from New York city.

Divers looked for the car for about an hour, before finding it submerged in 10ft of water. When a tow truck pulled it to shore, the bodies were still inside.

Ms Armstrong's husband Jean Pierre was questioned by police but they refused to give details or say if he had been charged with anything.

Shortly before she drove the car into the river, a relative called police to report a domestic incident at Ms Armstrong's apartment. By the time police got there, she and her children were gone. They said there was no history of domestic violence at the address.

Several neighbours yesterday said she was a good mother who balanced care of her children with an outside job. They were shocked by the news.

"She was a very good mom," said Tina Claybourne, who lives nearby. "She took care of her kids."

The boat ramp was unguarded by gate or chain. There was no sign of the tragedy, save for a single teddy bear left at the end of a dock that runs alongside the boat ramp. Newburgh, which has about 30,000 residents, sits on the western shore of the part of the river that runs south through New York state and eventually splits New York and New Jersey.

A similar incident occurred in 2006, about 20 miles south of Newburgh.

In 2007, a man was sentenced to three years' probation after pleading guilty to child endangerment. He admitted he knew he was putting his daughters at risk when he stepped out of the family car on Bear Mountain in June 2006, leaving them with their mother, who then drove off a 300ft drop. The mother was killed but the children survived the plunge.

Irish Independent

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