The announcement comes a day after New York City’s chief medical examiner’s office ruled that the cause of death was intentional drowning.
Just before 2am on Monday, police received a 911 call from a family member who was concerned for the safety of the children. Authorities found Merdy barefoot, soaked, unable to communicate, with family, Police told the Washington Post that the children were found “unconscious and unresponsive” on the Coney Island boardwalk and later on the coastline two miles away.
The children were later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Families contacted by the Post said they were still recovering from the shock of the news.
“No one expected this. No one saw it happen,” said Dine Stephen, 51, who said she was her mother’s aunt.
Eddie Stephen told the Post that the incident was a “tragedy”.
“We are mourning — three young children,” said Stephen, who said he was the mother’s uncle. “We’re praying for our niece.”
NYPD Commissioner Kenneth Corey said at a news conference Monday that family members who called 911 told authorities she was concerned for the safety of the children. “I believe she has called them and made such a statement,” he said of the mother, adding that the family had no previous reports or known history of abuse or neglect.
After the call, police were dispatched to the Brooklyn apartment where the mother and son live. The father of one of the children, who was in the apartment building, told police he had “similar concerns” for the children’s safety and “said he believed the woman was on the Coney Island boardwalk with the children,” Corey said.
Over the next 90 minutes, police searched the woman and three children on the street and on the beach. Then another 911 call came in at 3:13 a.m. and took police to Brighton Beach, two miles away, where the mother and several relatives were found, Corey said.
Police said the search was intensified and authorities hired sea, land and air crews. At 4:42 a.m., the children were found unconscious about two miles from their mother’s home — less than a mile from their Brooklyn home, Corey said.
A video released by the New York Post shows lights flashing and sirens blaring as officers desperately try to revive the children.
“Officers immediately administered life-saving measures, including CPR, to the children, who were transported to Coney Island Hospital, where, sadly, they were pronounced dead,” Corey said.
The siblings’ deaths have reverberated deeply in their communities.
Zachary’s Alfred Brown The school’s football coach described the boy as “full of energy. Just full of energy, you know you have to say ‘enough, enough,'” Brown told the New York Post.
Fellow coach Alan McFarlane said Zachary likes to play football. Hours after his death, the team paid a final goodbye to the 7-year-old, according to the New York Post.
Late Monday, as a balloon carrying his jersey number 15 flew over Coney Island, his teammates shouted: “Zachary, we love you,” the newspaper reported.