BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – Michelle McIntosh and her son planned to find a spot in the park for a Fourth of July picnic, then drive home less than a half-mile away to pick up her husband and their other three children.
About 20 minutes after she left, her husband heard a siren headed toward the park.
Twenty minutes after that, police were at his door to tell David McIntosh the family minivan had rolled down a hill and plunged into a pond.
The accident killed his wife, their son David, 2, nephew Jayden Wilson, 6, and family friend Julia Boyd, 3.
“I’m numb,” David McIntosh said on Thursday, crying. “It’s like I’m still waiting for them to come back.”
Michelle McIntosh, 39, had stopped the minivan Wednesday morning to talk with friends in another car about where to set up their picnic at Beardsley Park, police said.
A few seconds after she stepped out, the van began to roll, police said.
McIntosh chased it and was dragged for a short distance, losing her shoes as she climbed in and tried to stop the van, police said. It rolled 248 feet down a steep hill and into a pond, where it was submerged in 15 feet of water for up to 25 minutes.
“All of the evidence we have at this point definitely points to it as an unfortunate, horrible accident,” Bridgeport police Capt. Lynn Kerwin said Thursday.
Relatives said it was an unthinkable end for Michelle McIntosh, who married her childhood sweetheart, emigrated with him from Jamaica and worked in the financial aid office of Monroe College in New York. She was a dedicated mother who took her four children for swimming lessons and to soccer games, family members said.
“If my kids fell on the ground and get a scratch, she’s at the doctor’s with them. If they cry, she takes them to the doctor,” David McIntosh said.
“She loves her children very much,” Michelle McIntosh’s mother, Veronica Plummer, said Thursday. “She gave her life to save them.”
With no survivors, family members were left to speculate about what might have happened.
Plummer said David McIntosh was a bright, energetic child who was fascinated with pretending to drive. His father, a 40-year-old government auditor, said his son sometimes got out of his car seat.
“Probably one of the kids was eager to get out of the car and touched the gear or something,” David McIntosh said.
Police said Thursday it was unclear what gear the van was in but that the emergency brake was off. The ignition appeared to be on and the passengers’ seat belts were off when the victims were recovered, Deputy Chief James Honis said.