A Newburgh mom, apparently unhinged by an argument at home, killed herself and her three kids by plunging the family minivan into the murky Hudson River, officials said.
Only the dead woman's 10-year-old son escaped the death vehicle on Tuesday night, leaving the mom to drown with her sons, ages 2 and 5, and her 11-month-old daughter, officials said.
The surviving son managed to open a power window, slip out and swim safely to shore through the 45-degree water.
A passing good Samaritan picked up the soaking wet boy and drove him two blocks to a local firehouse, where the shivering child - with great difficulty - detailed the gruesome scene.
"We're talking about a tragedy in this city that is second to none," said Newburgh Mayor Nick Valentine.
The distraught driver was identified as Lashanda Armstrong, 25. The landlord at her building said Armstrong shared the apartment with her boyfriend, and had twice asked to get the locks changed in a six-month period - most recently in March.
"She said she didn't want him here," John Boubaris, 48, said. "That was the last person living with her, the boyfriend."
Neighbors identified the boyfriend as Jean Pierre, the father of the three dead children.
Details of the domestic incident preceding the death were withheld by police, and it was unclear if Pierre was at the apartment - although cops confirmed they had spoken with him.
"Whether he was there earlier in the evening, that's part of our investigation," said Newburgh Police Chief Michael Ferrara.
It took firefighters about an hour of searching Tuesday night before the sunken van was discovered about 75 feet offshore in eight feet of water.
The steady rain and darkness hampered the desperate rescue effort, which included helicopters, scuba divers and search dogs.
Inside the vehicle they discovered Armstrong and the three kids: eldest son Landon, brother Lance and baby Lainaina.
"It's a very difficult task," Ferrara said after the bodies were found. "This is particularly tragic."
Armstrong drove the van off a concrete boat ramp just a half-dozen blocks from the apartment she shared with the four children - including the lone survivor, Lesean Armstrong.
The only sign of the tragedy Wednesday was a lone white teddy bear left on the dock near the ramp.
Shortly before Lesean reached the firehouse, police were called for a domestic dispute at the woman's home by a relative. But they arrived to find the apartment empty.
The city of Newburgh, in Orange County, is about 60 miles north of New York City.
Neighbors described the woman as a good mom who juggled her parental duties with a job. The kids were often seen playing on the block outside the apartment or riding their bikes through the neighborhood.
"She was a very good mom," said neighbor Tina Claybourne. "She took care of her kids. She was always with her kids."
The chilling episode bears an eerie similarity to the notorious Susan Smith murders.
Smith made headlines in 1994 when she rolled her car into a South Carolina lake with her two young sons trapped inside.
Smith claimed she had been carjacked by a black man, but investigators later determined she had lied and had sunk the car herself. She is serving a life sentence.