NEW YORK – Updated Sept. 14 at 3:09 p.m.:
A mother of three young children who were found unconscious on a Coney Island beach has been charged with murder for their deaths.
The woman, identified as Erin Merdy, was charged with three counts each of murder, murder with depraved indifference to human life and murder with a victim under 11 years old, WABC reported.
The victims were identified as 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev, 4-year-old Lilana Merdy and 7-year-old Zachary Merdy, WNBC reported.
Police told WNBC that a concerned family member initially called 911 at 1:40 a.m. because they were worried about the 30-year-old mother harming her children.
Officers went to the family’s apartment, where they met a man who said he was the children’s father and told police he believed the mother and children were on the boardwalk, WABC reported. Officers canvassed the boardwalk, searching for any sign of the family.
After a 90-minute search, another 911 call led police to a different area of the boardwalk, where they found the woman with other relatives, but no children in sight, The New York Times reported. Chief Kenneth Corey told The Times that the woman was barefoot and “soaking wet” when she was found, but officers said they didn’t know whether she had been in the water or was wet from the rain.
The three children, girls ages 3 months and 4 years, and a boy, 7, were found unconscious at the edge of the water approximately 2 miles away at 4:45 a.m., WNBC reported. Despite attempts to resuscitate them, the children were pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police officials told WABC that the children’s mother would not communicate with officers and was taken to the hospital for evaluation and then to the 60th precinct, where she is being questioned by detectives. Investigators told the station they are investigating the case as a triple drowning.
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