Eyewitness Account: Mother and Baby Pulled from Hudson River

by - May 11, 2010 at 2:52 pm -

hudsonA mother and her baby were pulled from the Hudson River near Pier 71 on Tuesday, both alive but in serious condition. An eyewitness we spoke to says the woman did not call for help or appear to be trying to get out of the water and CBS News reported that the woman was apparently attempting to drown herself and her baby. The mother and child were taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital.

(UPDATE Wednesday: The mother, Devi Silva Dominic, 33, has been charged with attempted murder. Both she and her 18-month old daughter Jessica are recovering well, according to the Daily News, via Gothamist.)

Maryann Ford, who lives at 67th Street and Riverside Boulevard said in an interview with us that she was coming back down Pier 71 at 70th Street after walking to the end of the pier when she suddenly saw an empty stroller. She had not seen the stroller when she first got onto the pier. Ford, who was with her friend Lane and her four-year-old godson, looked just South of the pier and saw a woman in the water holding a baby. They were in their clothes and did not have wetsuits or life preservers on.

“It was just complete horror,” she said. “My stomach twisted. For a minute I was just frozen.”

They were “bobbing in the water,” Ford said, and Lane called out to them “Do you need any help?” but the woman simply waved “as if she was just acknowledging she could hear us” and did not appear to be asking for help. The baby appeared to be between 1 and 2 years old, Ford said. Ford looked directly at the baby’s face.

“She could have yelled or made a call of distress but she didn’t,” she said.

Maryann Ford

Maryann Ford

Lane called 911, and Ford considered jumping in the water to save them.

“I knew help was on the way. It was my complete instinct to jump in, but I don’t know how to swim.”

The woman and baby kept floating South and she saw the woman’s head go under the water, and then her head came back up but the baby’s head went under.

“And then at one point I don’t see either of them and I can see a little bit of them but I don’t see their heads. I’m just completely panicked. I feel like throwing up.”

Within minutes, a rescue boat showed up and plucked one of them out of the water, but the other was still in the water. Ford wasn’t sure if it was the mother or the baby. Ford was yelling at the boat to pick up the other one.

“We were all kind of pointing frantically and saying ‘you missed someone, you missed someone.'”

Thankfully another rescue boat suddenly came into view and got the other person.

Ford spoke to the police and then walked away, hoping to get her godson away from the scene around the pier. But suddenly a man approached her.

“He asked ‘what happened?’ I said ‘A woman and her child were in the water.’ The man was silent for a couple of seconds. He wasn’t super panicked. He just said ‘I think that’s my wife and child’. And I just said ‘Oh my gosh.’ He said ‘There was an argument with my parents. There was an argument and my wife left.'”

The man then changed his story, and implied there had been no argument, Ford said. He said he and his wife lived in one of the Trump buildings along the river below 72nd Street.

Ford went home and tried to relax with her godson.

“I’m so shaken by it,” she told us. “I still have the vision of looking at that baby.”

(image of scene via CBS News)

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