Funerals for children in Hudson River drownings

April 25, 2011 2:14:13 PM PDT
Grief and tension filled the funeral for the three children who died in the Hudson River tragedy earlier this month. Gwendolen Green, a second cousin of the mother, LaShanda Armstrong, said she was kicked out of the service after she stood up for her 17-year-old son who was being "manhandled."

"The last straw was when they messed with my child," she said.

Armstrong, 25, loaded her four children into a minivan on April 12 after an argument with the father of the three youngest. She drove down a boat ramp in Newburgh into the Hudson River. The oldest child, a 10-year-old La'Shaun Armstrong, crawled out a window and survived.

LaShanda was laid to rest last week after a joint funeral was cancelled by the dead children's father, Jean Pierre. Armstrong's relatives were angry with the decision.

"We're all still dealing with everything, and coping with it," said one family member.

At Lashanda Armstong's funeral last week, mourners used pictures of her three children and balloons with their names on it, to try to bring unity to the service.

The funerals were held for 5-year-old Landen, 2-year-old Lance, and baby Lainaina on Monday.

Mourners arriving for the service were checked against a list before they were allowed inside.

Green said she was not on the list, but she managed to get in.

"You're not going to keep me from going in and seeing my family," she said.

Jean Pierre, the father of the murdered kids, entered the viewing, followed by his family which had gathered on one side of the lawn.

Lashonda's mother, grandmother to the children, was allowed into the viewing early, returning outside, clearly shaken to the hugs from the rest of the Armstrong family who were forced to wait outside.

The mourners were divided into factions inside the funeral home, Green said.

"You could cut the tension with a knife," she said.

Green said La'Shaun did not attend the service for his three siblings.

"It was too much for him," she said.

She said Lainaina was wearing a white dress "like an Easter dress" and the boys were wearing dark suits.

A single hearst carried the children to their burial.

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