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April 15th, 2011
07:38 AM ET

Good samaritan who picked up sole survivor of car drowning speaks out

New York (CNN) - Moments after the mother of four young children plunged her minivan into the Hudson River, she expressed second thoughts about killing herself and her children, the woman's lone surviving son told police and the woman who found him soaking wet by the road.

The 10-year-old boy, Lashaun Armstrong, hoisted himself out of the van's driver-side window, swam to shore, then tried to flag down help by the side of a road in Newburgh, New York, some 60 miles north of New York City, that town's Fire Chief Michael Vatter said.

Meave Ryan told HLN's Vinnie Politan on Thursday that she noticed the shivering boy "yelling and screaming, 'Help me, help me, please help me.'"

After the boy told Ryan that his mother, Lashonda Armstrong, had driven their car into the river, Ryan asked him to get in her vehicle. She said she drove toward the water, then went in knee-deep, but couldn't see any sign of the vehicle or any other survivors.

The boy eventually recalled to Ryan that, as the car was moving, his mother went into the backseat and "had all her children cradled in her arms." According to Ryan's recollection of her conversation with Lashaun, he quoted his mother as saying, 'If I'm going to die, ... you're all going to die with me.'"

Lashaun told Ryan that he resisted and broke free, yelling out the window for help. Ryan said that the boy told her that as he was trying to escape, "maybe (his mother) had a break of reality," and the boy said his mother then cried out, "Oh my God, I made a mistake."

She climbed back into the front seat and tried to put the car in reverse to pull it out of the water, the boy told Ryan and police, according to Police Lt. Pat Arnold.

But it was too late. Read More

Meave Ryan, the good samaritan who picked up the survivor and Dr. Jeff Gardere speak to CNN's American Morning about the tragedy and the psychological effects of it.


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