Two children, one adult dead after van rolls into pond at Connecticut park

Thursday, July 5, 2007

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- A woman chased her minivan as it rolled down a steep hill and jumped in before it sank into a pond Wednesday, killing her and two children inside and leaving a third child in critical condition, authorities said.

The woman, who was the mother of at least one of the children, had gotten out of the van, then noticed it was rolling away and jumped back in before it went into the water, Police Chief Bryan Norwood said.

The van rolled about 60 or 70 yards into Bunnell's Pond at Beardsley Park, where many people had gathered to celebrate the Fourth of July.

The victims were trapped inside in 15 to 20 feet of water for 20 to 25 minutes before members of the Bridgeport police scuba team were able to pull them out. Rescuers tried to revive them before they were taken to local hospitals.

Fire Battalion chief Ismael Pomales said the woman apparently got out of the van to ask directions to a Fourth of July barbecue, but police would not confirm that Wednesday night.

"It's horrible," Pomales said. "We've had children die before. That's probably one of the toughest things for any rescue person to deal with."

Their names were not immediately released because officials were notifying relatives.

All three children were younger than 7 years old, officials said. Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello confirmed that two of the children died.

A third was sent to Yale-New Haven Hospital. Hospital officials said the surviving child, a 6-year-old boy, was in critical condition.

The woman was taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center, where she also died, Pomales said.

People nearby tried unsuccessfully to stop the van, Pomales said.

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