Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Police: Mom drove into river trying to kill 3 kids

By: KATHY MATHESON
April 17, 2014 Updated: April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm
0

Three New Jersey teens frantically used their cellphones to call for help from a sinking van after their troubled mother drove them into a river, their father said Thursday.

Ultimately, a passer-by helped all four escape from the cold Delaware River in Florence Township, N.J., after one sibling kicked out a window.

"They did all the right things," said the father, Jeffrey Smith. "I just thank God that they got out safely."

Police said Joann Smith, of Florence, tried to drown the three children, ages 13 to 15. She was charged with attempted murder and child endangerment and was being held on $600,000 bail.

Jeffrey Smith said he received a call from his daughter around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday after the car went off a boat ramp about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia. He said his two sons in the van were simultaneously trying to call 911, but one was cut off when the phone got wet.

Smith said he was about 15 miles away running an errand with the couple's eldest son when he got the call.

About the same time, township resident Darnell Taylor said he and his wife were driving by the boat ramp when he noticed the partially submerged van in the river. He told WCAU-TV that he got out of his car, heard screaming and jumped in the water.

"I couldn't get the window open because the window in the van was not a pop-out window," Taylor told the Philadelphia NBC affiliate. "So I kept telling the young lady to kick the window out and she kicked it out."

Taylor recalled that Joann Smith only said "Thank you" during the ordeal.

Jeffrey Smith said Thursday that his 49-year-old wife has been battling mental illness for more than a decade. Treatments have included hospitalizations and medications, he said, yet it's hard to determine "when things are going to go bad."

He said he never anticipated a situation like this.

Smith expressed gratitude for Taylor's help in saving the family and noted he's received a lot of support from church and neighborhood groups.

___

Follow Kathy Matheson at www.twitter.com/kmatheson

Comment Policy
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

Some news is free.
Exceptional journalism takes time, effort and your support.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.