KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Police say a mother drove her car into the Kalamazoo River Monday night, killing herself and her young twin daughters.
Family members identified the mother as Ineza McClinton, 44, and the daughters as 9-year-old twins Angel and Faith.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said two other girls also under the age of 10 were let out of the car to meet their uncle at a Walgreens just before McClinton drove into the river. They were distraught when officers found them around 10:45 p.m. Monday walking toward the store across the street from a police station.
It was then that officers learned McClinton had intentionally driven into the Kalamazoo River with her children inside the vehicle.
When officers started searching the water near Verburg Park, they found the bodies of the woman and one of the girls.
The Michigan State Police Dive Team recovered the second daughter’s body around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Karianne Thomas, chief of Kalamazoo Public Safety, says the loss of life is being felt throughout the community.
“It’s just such a tragedy, and our heart just goes out to that family and that substantial loss that they have and will have forever,” Thomas said.
The chief says investigators and the community want to know why this happened but may never know the answer.
“We may never know that, but I think it just shows that everyone is going through something. In this world, we’ve just got to take that time and help who we can help,” Thomas said.
Family members say they are working on funeral arrangements and want to thank the community for the outpouring of support as they grieve.
Neighbors and loved ones created a makeshift memorial with candles and toys on the front steps of the family’s Grand Rapids home Tuesday evening.
“They were loving kids. They were always coming over giving me hugs and stuff,” neighbor Essiena Yarerough said of the twins.
The Office of Children’s Ombudsman told 24 Hour News 8 there is an open investigation into Children’s Protective Services prior interactions with the family in question. That means the woman and her two kids had some sort of contact with CPS in the last two years. The office will investigate to see if CPS could have or should have done anything differently that may have prevented this tragedy.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety at 269.488.8911 or Silent Observer at 269.343.2100.
TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT DIFFICULT TOPICS
If can be difficult to shield your children from hearing about disturbing incidents like this, but there are ways to can speak with them to ease their fears.
A Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital pediatric psychologist said that if children hear about such things from friends or on the news, parents may want to approach children before they come to you. She said to think about the situation yourself first so you’re prepared for the discussion.
“You want to provide that reassurance, and that’s going to be the most important thing,” Dr. Adelle Cadieux said. “That as a family, this is what your family is and that you care about each other and you take care of each other. And providing that open communication and that warmth and support will help them continue to feel OK as well as be able to talk you more about either this situation or any other future situations.”
>>App users: More from Dr. Cadieux
—24 Hour News 8’s Kyle Mitchell, Heather Walker and Marlee Ginter contributed to this report.
***EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated the final body was recovered around 10:30 a.m., based on preliminary reports. This story has since been updated to reflect the recovery time given by the police chief.****