Friday, April 15, 2011


Chilling new details emerged Thursday in the tragic story of a Newburgh mother who drove her minivan into the Hudson River with her four children buckled inside. The mom and three of those children drowned, while a 10-year-old boy managed to survive.

Just thirty minutes before Lashanda Armstrong drove off a concrete boat ramp into the Hudson River, she reportedly posted a grim farewell to friends and family on her Facebook page.

"I'm sorry everyone forgive me please for what I'm gonna do… This is it!!!" Armstrong posted from her Blackberry to her Facebook wall, according to which obtained access to her profile.

Her Facebook status wasn't the only disturbing details that surfaced Thursday. According to police, Armstrong's final words to her children revealed that the mother of four was not stable in her last moments.

"If I'm going to die, you're going to die with me," Armstrong said to her children before driving off into the chilly waters of the Hudson sometime before 8 p.m. Tuesday, the lone survivor 10-year-old Lashaun Armstrong told authorities. The scene of the tragedy lies just about six blocks away from Armstrong's apartment.

Lashaun's siblings 5-year-old Landon Pierre, 2-year-old Lance Pierre, and 11-month-old Lainaina Pierre all lost their lives in the tragedy.

Lashaun, the eldest of Armstrong's children, was the only one who escaped the sinking vehicle. Investigators say he climbed out a window on the driver's side of the vehicle and swam to shore.

The boy revealed to investigators that as he was wriggling out of the vehicle, his mother pulled on his pant leg and said, "I made a mistake," before letting him go. According to reports, she attempted to put the car in reverse, but it was too late.

Officials say it only took two minutes for the minivan to sink to the bottom of the Hudson River.

Lashaun who was spotted by passerby Meave Ryan, 31, was driven six blocks to a nearby firehouse where he was treated.

Officials say he was soaking wet and had difficulty speaking. Eventually, the boy was able to tell officials about his mother and siblings, and the vehicle in the Hudson River.

A police officer arrived at the firehouse to take custody of the boy. He was later released to the custody of his late mother's aunt Angela Gilliam, who told reporters "My nephew's doing fine. He's really not talking."

Firefighters, police boats, helicopters and divers responded to the location where the car entered the murky Hudson River.

The car was found about 25 yards offshore in 8- to 10-feet of water about an hour later. Investigators believe the children were alive at the time of the drowning.

The water temperature at the time was between 40- to 45-degrees.

The police chief in Newburgh called the discovery of the van with the bodies inside a "horrible sight" while Newburgh Mayor Nick Valentine described it as a tragedy that was second to none in the city's history.

Officials also said if 10-year-old Lashaun did not survive, their investigation would have probably become a missing persons case rather than a muder-suicide.

Cops believe this tragedy is somehow connected to a domestic dispute from earlier in the evening. They received a call around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday from relatives that there was some sort of verbal altercation at the woman's home between Lashandra and the father of three of her children.

Armstrong has apparently called her father for help, with her kids screaming in the background. She said, "I'm sorry, I'm going to do something crazy," according to what the boy told authorities.

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