Two Children Drown in Submerged Car; Mother Arrested

Authories investigate woman's claim it was an accident

ByABC News
August 16, 2010, 3:43 PM

Aug. 16, 2010— -- The bodies of two children were recovered from a car submerged in a South Carolina river this morning and their 29-year-old mother has been arrested, authorities said.

Orangeburg County, S.C., Sheriff Larry Williams said the dead children, both boys, aged 1 and 2, were recovered from the North Edisto River after the car was found near a boat landing early today.

The sheriff would not identify the children or the mother, but a jail official identified the boys' mother as 29-year-old Shaquan Duley and County Coroner Samuetta Marshall said the toddlers were 18-month-old Ja'van T. Duley and 2-year-old Devean C. Duley, both of Orangeburg.

Marshall declined to discuss cause of death until the autopsies are completed Tuesday.

The State Highway Patrol was notified about 6:15 a.m. today that there had been an accident and a woman needed help getting her children out of the car, which was sinking in the middle of the river, Williams said.

Divers were brought to the scene, and when the car was lifted from the water about 45 minutes later, the two toddlers were found, dead, still strapped in their child seats, he said.

Williams said the woman had reported that the children were involved in an accident, but he said there were no signs the car had skidded off the road and into the water.

The sheriff said the car, a Chrysler sedan, entered the water from a boat ramp.

"Early in the investigation, the state patrol felt there was not enough indicators to substantiate that there was an automobile accident," Williams said.

And he said his officers agreed.

"My staff were out and they looked at what was there, they felt it wasn't an accident either," he said. "They are giving broad thoughts to other issues. They didn't have any evidence of a vehicle accident."

"We are looking into all possibilities as to what happened," the sheriff said.

Williams said the woman, who did not have a cell phone, left the scene and walked nearly a mile before she flagged down a passing motorist to call the police.

She was arrested and is being held on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, although additional charges may be filed, the sheriff said.

"She showed some emotion, but I can't say she was overly distraught," Williams said. "Through her statements, there are some things we think are not believable."

Williams said the children's father did not live with the family and authorities were attempting to contact him. He said the woman had one other child.