Authorities are investigating death of three children who were found unresponsive along a New York shoreline early Monday after a family member reported concerns for their safety.
The children – a 7-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl and a 3.5-month-old girl – were found at Coney Island in Brooklyn around 4:42 a.m., the New York police chief said. of the Kenneth Corey department.
Police said a 30-year-old woman believed to be the children’s mother was under psychiatric evaluation in a hospital on Tuesday morning, a law enforcement official said.
She had been questioned by the police and then hospitalized after finding her on Monday morning at Brighton Beach, near Coney Island, authorities said. She has not been charged with a crime, police said, and authorities have not released her condition.
All three children were pronounced dead after first responders took lifesaving measures, including CPR, Corey added.
“We don’t know exactly what happened here,” Corey said Monday at a news conference, noting the information was preliminary.
There are no indications at this time of previous child abuse or neglect, authorities noted.
As investigators piece together what exactly happened to the children and the woman, here’s what we know about the unfolding of events:
Police received a 911 call at 1:40 a.m. Monday from a person who feared a “family member may have harmed her three young children,” Corey said. The caller asked the police to check the woman’s apartment in Coney Island.
When police arrived at the apartment, a man who identified himself as the father of one of the three children also said he was concerned, Corey added. The man told police he believed the woman and her three children were on a boardwalk at Coney Island.
For about 90 minutes, officers scoured beaches, streets and a local hospital. Then another 911 call arrived to direct officers to a specific location – Brighton 6th Street and Riegelmann Boardwalk near Brighton Beach.
The caller reported a despondent woman, a police spokesperson told CNN.
When officers arrived, they found the woman and other family members with her. The children were not there.
The search continued through land, air and port units. At around 4:42 a.m., officers found the unconscious children on the shore of West 35th Street in Coney Island, Corey said.
The Coney Island location where the children were found is about 2 miles from where the woman was found – and just half a mile south of her apartment.
She was “soaked” when investigators made contact with her, said Corey, who noted that it was unclear whether she had been in the rain or in the water off the coast.
On Tuesday morning, the shore where the children were found showed no signs of what had happened the day before – no crime scene tape, no police presence – as only a few people walked along the beach and on the walk.
The woman’s apartment is in a building about 20 stories high a few blocks north across from an elementary school and near a small shopping mall, grocery store, dental implants and a pharmacy.
Leslie Torres, 33, who works near the building, used to see the 4-year-old playing outside with others. Torres didn’t know about the boy, but the woman was often with the baby and 4-year-old, Torres said Tuesday.
“We used to (see them) play here. We would give them Popsicles. They were good kids,” said Torres, who works at a home health aide school that supports the building.
The 7-year-old boy was a kind and generous person with a particular humility about him, his father told CNN on Tuesday morning.
“Anyone who has met my son would know he is special,” said father, Derrick Merdy.
He loved the video game character Sonic the Hedgehog. “I think I spent so much money buying him every last one,” Merdy said.
The boy “had a humility about him that I can’t even emulate, and I’m going to do my best to live like him because he was so kind and generous,” the father said.
“He was going to be great.”