The family of 25-year-old LaShanda Armstrong says that they are trying to come to terms with the death of Armstrong and three of her children, and are also struggling to understand how she came to this conclusion in her life, as well as the lives of her children.
For weeks, Armstrong had been repeatedly apologizing to family members and friends for any wrongs she had ever done to any of them, a report on NBCs Today Show indicated. According to her sister, Darice Armstrong, LaShanda was overwhelmed, but she never imagined that she was to the point that she could do something like kill herself and her children. Darice did, however, indicate that Armstrong may have been feeling scared. “She was talking to me about how she felt like somebody was watching her,” she said in the report. “She felt like there was pages of her diary missing. The lights in her house were flickering on and off.”
Initially, police and firefighters thought that Armstrong had let her oldest son, 10-year-old La’Shaun, out of the car before driving it into eight feet of water off of a boat ramp. Now, they realize that he was in the van at the time, as well, but was able to escape by rolling down the electric window, climbing out, and swimming frantically to shore in 40 degree water. He then flagged down a passing motorist.
Meave Ryan stopped and picked up La’Shaun, and said that he was terrified. “The frozen fear on his face,” she said in the Today Show report. “I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life.” Once he was inside her car and safe, he began to tell Ryan what had happened. “She went into the backseat and held them all together,” Ryan related, “and said, ‘If I’m going to die, you are all going to die with me.’”
Ryan had previously spoken with the New York Times about the incident, and indicated that she had went into the water herself, to see if she could see the car, but it was gone. When she drove to the fire department, they knocked on the dispatcher’s door, because the firehouse was practically empty, and the trucks were all out on call.
"There was an argument about cheating, that his stepfather was cheating on his mother," Ryan recalled to the NYT.
Shaniesha Strange, supervisor in the infant room of Young and Unique Christian Development Child Care, where Armstrong would leave her children while working or in school, said that Armstrong was a great parent, the Today Show reported online. Hetty Minatee, a teacher at the daycare, said that Jean Pierre, the father of the three children who died, originally came in with Armstrong at times, and would sometimes pick up the kids himself. But, a couple of weeks previous to the incident on Tuesday, Armstrong had informed the daycare that she did not want the father picking up the children any longer, and Armstrong said that she was trying to get a court order to keep him away from the kids completely.
La’Shaun said that his mother changed her mind as the van was sinking, saying that she had made a mistake, according to the Today Show report. But, it was too late.
Officials say that Armstrong and her husband do have a history of domestic disputes, but when they arrived on Tuesday, after a call about a possible dispute in the Armstrong household, made by a concerned family member, there was no one home.
Read more about the incident on Huliq.com:
New York mom drives van into river, kills herself and 3 children (VIDEO)
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Video: NBCs Today Show