Mom Drives Van Into River, Drowns Self And Three Kids

Lashanda Armstrong, 25, drove her family van into the Hudson River in Newburgh, N.Y., drowning herself and three of her four children. Her 10-year-old son escaped through a window and swam to shore. He ran to the fire department for help, but by the time firefighters arrived at the scene it was too late.

Lashanda Armstrong’s three younger children, Landon Pierre, 5, Lance Pierre, 2, and 11-month-old Lainaina Pierre, all died with her in the van.

Her actions came as a shock to those who knew her. Neighbors described her as a good mom who took excellent care of her kids. Police received a domestic violence call to her apartment a short while before she drove the van into the water, but when they arrived the house was empty. There was no history of domestic violence associated with the family. Her husband has been questioned but not charged with anything.

Armstrong’s murder-suicide is eerily reminiscent of other incidents in which women have driven their kids into water.

The Associated Press links this case to two older cases, one of which took place just 20 miles from 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.

They also likened it to the Susan Smith case in 1994, in which a woman drove her children into a lake but survived herself. She initially claimed her car had been carjacked, but the truth came out. She is now serving a life sentence in prison.

Photo: moritz.schmaltz

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