Mother charged after car rolls into creek, killing her kids inside

Jenea Monique Payne faces two counts of manslaughter and one count of child neglect after two of her children drowned in a creek in Leland, Mississippi, according to Assistant Police Chief Marcus Davis with Leland police. / Photo courtesy: WLOX
By  | 

LELAND, MS (WLBT) - A 25-year-old mother is facing two counts of manslaughter and one count of child neglect after two of her children drowned in a creek in Leland, Mississippi, according to Assistant Police Chief Marcus Davis with Leland police.

The Leland Police Department was called on Saturday, March 9, around 5:45 p.m., in reference to a white Nissan Pathfinder that was floating in Deer Creek with three children trapped inside the vehicle.

When they arrived on scene, Leland Fire Chief Bobby Johnson, Sarah Hester, Jacob Humphrey, C.J. Holland, Seth Humphrey and Austin Macklemore had already located the vehicle with the children trapped inside.

The Fire Chief, along with the others, jumped into the creek and attempted to bust the windows out of the vehicle in order to get the children out.

"I jumped on the car, like trying to break the windshield. It wouldn't break. I was trying to see if the door was unlocked but they were all locked so I jumped on the sunroof. I was stomping it but it wouldn't break," Holland was quoted saying, by the Delta News.

As the vehicle floated down the creek, the individuals ended up only being able to rescue one of the three kids, before having to swim to safety. The vehicle then drifted further down and into the creek.

Leland Volunteer Firefighters probed the creek, attempting to find the vehicle, when a rescue dive team arrived and entered the water. The vehicle was found at 8:00 p.m.

The children's mother, 25-year-old Jenea Monique Payne, said that she left the kids in the vehicle as she walked into a Stop-N-Shop on N. Main St.

Payne said that as she came out of the store, her vehicle was gone and had rolled into the creek.

She identified the children as her two sons, four-year-old Steve Smith and one-year-old Rasheed Johnson Jr., and her daughter two-year-old Raelynn Johnson. Her daughter Raelynn was the only one of the three kids able to be pulled to safety.

When the vehicle was found, it was pulled from the water by Venutti Towing with two of the kids still inside. Washington County Coroner Melton Johnson pronounced Payne's two sons dead on the scene at 8:37 p.m.

Payne was released on a recognizance bond.