3 children dead after drowning incident on Coney Island, mother questioned and then hospitalized

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NEW YORK — Police believe a mother may have drowned her three young children on Monday morning. All of them were under the age of 7.

CBS2’s Kevin Rincon heard from neighbors who know the family.

Folks here are devastated to hear what happened. They said the mom, to them, looked like she was trying her best, which is all the more reason they were shocked to know those kids are gone.

Early Monday morning, police embarked on a 90-minute-long frantic search for three kids along the shoreline. They got a call from a concerned relative who believed the children were in danger.

Cops found the mother, 30-year-old Erin Merdy, barefoot and soaking wet. Her kids were eventually discovered two miles away on the beach at West 35th Street in Coney Island.

“The officers immediately initiated life-saving measures, including CPR, on the children and they were rushed to Coney Island Hospital, where they were regrettably pronounced deceased,” NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said.

The kids were identified as 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev, 4-year-old Lilana Merdy, and 7-year-old Zachary Merdy. “Zach Attack” was known on the football field as a standout.

“All the football players, the teammates, everybody, is taking it hard, and the coaches, they’re taking it real hard because they love these kids and they put all their work to these kids in the community and it’s a shame,” one woman said.

Football coach Alfred Brown was emotional after learning he lost one of his boys.

“He always sees me and every time ‘It’s coach! Coach! Coach!,’ so, to not hear him say ‘Coach! Coach!’ today is heartbreaking,” Brown said.

Brown not only saw him on the field, but also at Public School 186.

“I got to give him his trophy on the last day of school last year,” Brown said.

Hours after the kids were found, their mother was questioned by police at the 60th Precinct, before being taken away by ambulance.

Many neighbors refused to go on camera, but told Rincon there were warning signs. One man said the kids were left with family for a bit, and wondered why they came back.

“Now I can see a person just snap, because we all have problems. Snap. I mean, really, really snap out of their mind,” the man said.

Police say the mom did call family to say she intended to hurt the kids, but wouldn’t say why. For now, she remains at the hospital, and charges are pending.

Check below for the latest updates. 

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