Updated 04/12/2012 12:08 PM
One year since Newburgh waterfront tragedy
It was called "a tragedy second to none." This Thursday marks one year since a Newburgh mother drove in the Hudson River, killing herself and three of her children. Our Elaina Athans was among those there the night it happened and has more on how the community is still reeling.
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NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- The Newburgh waterfront shows little signs these days of the tragedy that unfolded here. People come by to simply slide their boats in the Hudson River. But a year ago this Thursday, the area was not as serene.
La'Shanda Armstrong drove her minivan, along with her four children, into the river. Three of the young children, along with Armstrong, died. The eldest child was able to escape and swim ashore to safety.
"It’s not something that anybody ever wants to see or I’ll ever forget," said Newburgh firefighter Tim Dexter.
Dexter was among the first responders and saw the unimaginable: The lifeless bodies of three children inside the vehicle.
"It's not really a situation we're prepared or used to taking of. We did the best we could," said Dexter.
The event sent shockwaves through the Newburgh community and the entire country as people desperately tried to understand or rationalize how a mother could kill her children in this manner.
"This was so uncalled for and so out of the blue," said former Newburgh Mayor Nick Valentine.
Valentine helped the city organize a fund for the sole survivor. More than $10,000 was collected.
"We are a generous community and I think that's one of the things that make us so strong and gets us through some of the most difficult experience that we have," said Valentine.
But for at least one first responder, the road to normalcy after the experience has been difficult.
"Going through your daily routine and coming to work and doing other emergencies and other things kind of help you forget about the hardship and time. Now it's something I can think about without getting upset," said Dexter.
While the waterfront looks quite different today than a year ago, vivid memories of a dock landing lined with flowers and candles and sounds of family members crying are things many people in this community will live with, regardless of time.