Mom in custody after her 2 boys found dead in submerged car

An automobile is removed from the North Edisto River after divers removed the bodies of 2 children found inside the submerged car.

Larry Hardy

ORANGEBURG -- A toddler's shoe gently floated from the submerged car where two small children were found dead Monday.

Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams said the mother was arrested after her children were found strapped in car seats inside the car in the North Edisto River.

The toddlers, two boys, were taken for an autopsy, which Coroner Samuetta Marshall said is scheduled for today.

The children have been identified as 18-month-old Ja'Van T. Duley and 2-year-old Devean C. Duley.

In custody at the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center is 29-year-old ShaQuan Duley. She has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident. She may be facing more charges today in connection with the deaths, authorities said.

"Early in the investigation, the state patrol felt there was not enough indicators to substantiate that there was an automobile accident," Williams said. "We are looking into all possibilities as to what happened."

The woman, who did not have a cell phone, had walked from the car to the junction of Shillings Bridge Road and Lake Edisto Road about a quarter-mile away. She told a passing motorist that an accident had occurred and that her children were in the water. The motorist called 911 at about 6:15 a.m.

"She showed some emotion, but I can't say she was overly distraught," the sheriff said. "Through her statements, there are some things we think are not believable."

The sheriff said investigators are considering how a traffic accident could have happened at the boat ramp. A mobile home, a house and mechanic's shop are a short distance away.

The initial call came in. as a vehicle accident on Shillings Bridge Road that resulted in a car crashing into a pond. The call noted possible entrapment.

The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety sent two engine companies and a rescue squad for what was thought would be a desperate rescue operation.

Public safety Capt. Mike Adams said he arrived around 7 a.m. and found two officers already on scene.

"They found a vehicle approximately 60 yards downstream of the Shillings Bridge Road bridge," Adams said. "They along with several other rescue workers recovered both children from the vehicle."

Along with the state Highway Patrol, the public safety officers on scene determined the case may not have been an accident.

Williams said the car had suffered little damage.

"There wasn't any physical evidence to support an accident," Williams said.

The incident was reminiscent of the deaths of two other toddlers in South Carolina. In a 1994 case that made headlines worldwide, Susan Smith left her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons strapped in their car seats as she rolled her car into a lake in Union County in the northwest part of the state.

She was convicted in their deaths and is serving a life prison term.

Across the river on the Orangeburg side, Shane Bowers said he's fished and swam in the river where the children were found. The boat landing is less than 200 feet from his small child has played.

"It's just devastating," he said. "Just to know those two children had to suffer."

The vehicle was pulled from the water around 10 a.m. An officer stood by the river as the car was being lifted from the water. He was holding a toddler's shoe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.