Police: Mom Tries to Drown Teens, Man Saves Them

Authorities say the New Jersey woman drove her van into a river Tuesday night
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 17, 2014 11:00 AM CDT
An image of the Delaware River.   (©)

(Newser) – A woman tried to drown her three teenage children by driving a van into a river, police say, but all four of them were rescued by a man who said he heard screaming from the partially submerged vehicle. Authorities say Joann Smith, 49, of Florence Township, NJ, drove the van onto a boat ramp and into the Delaware River in Florence around 6:30pm Tuesday. Darnell Taylor said he and his wife were driving by when he noticed the 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 said yesterday. "So I kept telling the young lady to kick the window out and she kicked it out." Smith's children, two boys and a girl, are ages 13 to 15. One suffered leg cuts, police said. Smith was charged with three counts of attempted murder and child endangerment. She was being held on $600,000 bail, and it was not clear if she had a lawyer. Taylor recalled that Smith only said "Thank you" during the ordeal. (Read more rescue stories.)

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