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4 Dead After Mom Drives Van with Kids Into NY River

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NEWBURGH, N.Y. — A woman who had just been involved in a domestic dispute loaded her four children into a minivan before letting one out and driving the rest of them into the Hudson River north of New York City, firefighters said. The woman and three young children were killed.

The 10-year-old boy who had been let out of the minivan Tuesday night ran to a nearby fire station and alerted firefighters, Chief Michael Vatter said. The boy told firefighters his mother had driven off a boat ramp in Newburgh, about 60 miles north of New York City, and into the murky water of the river, Vatter said. Inside with her were the boy's siblings: two boys, ages 5 and 2, and an 11-month-old girl.

Firefighters and police officers responded with boats. Divers searched for the minivan for about an hour before finding it submerged in 10 feet of water about 25 yards offshore. They used a heavy-duty tow truck to pull it up the boat ramp and onto land.

Everyone inside was dead, Vatter said.

The woman lived about six blocks from where she and her children perished, he said. Their names have not been released.

The domestic altercation occurred about 10 minutes before the woman drove into the river, said Vatter, who didn't have any more information on it.

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, Victor Han, of Queens, was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to child endangerment. Han admitted he knew he was putting his daughters at risk when he stepped out of the family minivan on Bear Mountain in June 2006, leaving them with their mother, 35-year-old Hejin Han. She then drove the Honda Odyssey off a 300-foot drop, killing herself. The mother was killed but the children somehow survived the plunge.

It's also reminiscent of the case of a South Carolina woman who drowned her young sons in 1994.

Susan Smith is serving a life sentence for killing 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex by strapping them into their car seats and driving the car into a pond. Smith originally claimed she was carjacked before the truth came out.



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