PLUMERVILLE, Ark. – The mother of three young boys who died when their car plunged into a lake on a foggy night was trying to tend to her children just before the accident, the boys' grandfather said Tuesday.
"The little fellows were fussing with one another, and she was trying to get them pacified," said Larry Hopkins, grandfather of the three boys and the father of Amber Turley, who survived the crash.
Turley told authorities that she took a wrong turn early Sunday and wound up on what used to be a state highway, a road that now goes into Lake Brewer. Killed in the crash were Aaron, 8, Alex, 7, and Anthony, 2.
Conway County Sheriff Mike Smith said Tuesday there was no indication that Turley intended for her children to die. He said a preliminary cause of death for the boys was expected Friday and that results were pending for Turley's blood test for alcohol or drugs.
Smith said Turley's eldest son had told her he could swim. He said she had her second eldest child hold onto her belt while she gathered the 2-year-old Anthony in her arms as they exited through the driver's window of the sedan.
Turley told investigators that Aaron didn't make it to shore and that Alex lost his grip. She said that as she grasped for Alex, the toddler slipped from her arms. Turley was able to swim to shore and run a half mile to the nearest home to call 911.
The children were pronounced dead at a hospital. A funeral was planned Wednesday, and funeral director Richard Neal said the family had asked "that all three boys be buried in the same casket."
The family said Turley and the boys' father are separated.