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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Mom drives van into NY river after domestic spat, killing self, 3 kids

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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

The 10-year-old boy who had been let out of the minivan 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.

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.

The town is about 30 miles north of suburban Westchester County, where a mother driving a van the wrong way on a highway in 2009 slammed into an SUV, killing eight people.

The woman blamed in that crash, Diane Schuler, was drunk and high on marijuana, an autopsy found. Schuler died, along with her daughter, three nieces and three men in the other vehicle. Schuler’s 5-year-old son survived.

The crash — and how Schuler could race against highway traffic with a vanload of frightened children — intrigued the nation and was featured on TV talk shows for months.

Her husband, Daniel Schuler, disputed the autopsy results and paid for more studies of her remains in hopes of proving she was not intoxicated. The results have not been made public.



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