Ismael Torres was the first emergency official to encounter La'Shaun Armstrong, 10, after his mother drove herself and his siblings into the Hudson River. He recounts helping the young boy moments after the tragedy.
Less than an hour before a young mother drove into the Hudson, drowning herself and three of her children, she posted a message on her Facebook page apologizing for what she was about to do.
"I'm so sorry everyone forgive me please for what I'm gonna do ... This is it!" she posted at 7:13 p.m. via her BlackBerry, according to MidHudsonNews.com, which obtained access to her private Facebook page.
LaShanda Armstrong, 25, drowned in the Hudson along with three of her kids: Landen Pierre, 5, Lance Pierre, 2, and Laianna Pierre, 11 months. Her 10-year-old son, La'Shaun Armstrong, managed to roll down a window, escape and swim to safety.
Loved ones held a vigil Thursday evening near the boat ramp where Armstrong plunged into the river Tuesday night.
Newburgh, N.Y. Mayor Nicholas Valentine says calls and emails are coming in from people around the country asking how they can help support the 10-year-old boy who was the only survivor of the tragedy.
A passerby who found the boy, shivering and soaking wet on the shore, said he told her his mom tried to put the van in reverse and repeated: "I made a mistake, I made a mistake."
Passerby Meave Ryan says 10-year-old La'Shaun Armstrong, who rolled down the window, escaped and swam to shore before the van sank, told her that his mother said: "If I'm gonna die, you're all going to die with me."
The boy told Ryan that his mom was upset because his stepfather was cheating on her.
Police identified Jean Pierre as the father of the three children who died; the boy has a different father. Police said Pierre has been questioned but declined to elaborate.
Newburgh police on Thursday released details of Pierre's criminal history, which included a charge of endangering the welfare of a minor in February. Police said Pierre was arrested after 2-year-old Lance Pierre was found wandering on the street at 1:15 a.m., partly undressed and in wet clothing.
Police said Pierre had been left in charge of the child.
Meanwhile, the police officer who found the family's minivan says the murky conditions and mucky river bottom off the shore hampered dive teams from quickly recovering the vehicle.
Lt. Bruce Campbell tells The Associated Press Thursday that he was the first diver to find the van, which sank against the hull of a construction barge in 8 feet of water.
Campbell says mud prevented him from opening the van's doors, and low visibility kept him from seeing inside the van.