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Four Children Drown When Car Runs Into River; Adults Rescued by Boat

August 4, 1989

WYANDOTTE, Mich. (AP) _ A car broke through a barrier and plunged into a river, killing four children, but two adults were rescued when passing boaters threw them life preservers, police said today.

Why the car went into the Detroit River late Thursday was unknown, Police Chief Edward Rothermal said. He said one of the survivors, Lawrence Delisle, 28, was questioned Thursday night ″but was in shock and incoherent.″

Delisle and his wife, Susan, 32, were in stable condition today at Wyandotte General Hospital, said Justine Kimbler, assistant director of nursing.

Rick Stoneburner said he and a companion threw flotation devices to the adults, who had come to the surface.

″The man was so exhausted and the woman was hysterical,″ he said. ″She said ’I am not leaving without my children. Save my children, they are underwater.‴

Divers recovered the bodies of the Delisles’ four children from the car in less than an hour, Rothermal said. Killed were Brian, 8; Melissa, 4; Kadie, 2; and Emily, 8 months.

Rothermal said Delisle would be questioned again later today.

Earlier Thursday, divers recovered the body of Katherine Prather, 7, of Detroit, who fell from her raft in Lake Erie Wednesday while unsuccessfully trying to rescue her sister, Cheyla, 9.

Katherine Prather’s body was found off Sterling State Park by divers from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department and state police, Sheriff Carl Van Wert said. Her sister’s body was found Wednesday.

Update hourly