3 children believed drowned by mother at Coney Island beach

Police have identified three children who died after they were found on the beach on Coney Island. Their mother is hospitalized for a psychological evaluation.

The children are Zachary Merdy, 7, Lilana Merdy, 4, and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev, according to the NYPD. Police have not publicly identified the woman who was questioned in connection with the case before she was taken to the hospital.  The Associated Press, citing family members, identified her as Erin Merdy, 30.

NYPD officers responded to a Neptune Avenue apartment at around 1:40 a.m. after family members called 911 from a different location with concerns that their relative may have harmed her three young children.

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Officers went to the apartment but no one answered the door. They came across a man in the building who said that he was the father of one of the children. He also expressed concerns about the safety of the children. He told officers that he believed that the mother and children were on the boardwalk.

Cops began a search for the woman and children on the boardwalk, beach, and streets of Coney Island. The search lasted about 90 minutes until police got another 911 call directing them to Brighton 6th Street and the Riegelmann Boardwalk.

That is where they found the 30-year-old woman but not the children. She was soaking wet and barefoot when they picked her up. They said they were unsure if she had been in the rain or had been in the ocean.

The police search then intensified, including aviation units and harbor units, Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said. 

Police found the children on the beach near 35th Street, about two miles down the boardwalk from where they found their mother and about three blocks from the building where they lived. Officers immediately began CPR on the children, Corey said. EMS rushed them to Coney Island Hospital but it was too late to save their lives.

Police found a shoe in the water.  It was bagged as evidence in the case.

At a news conference, police officials asked witnesses to come forward. They added that the woman doesn't appear to have any prior cases of abuse or neglect.

A security supervisor for Merdy's building said the family had moved in less than a year ago.

No criminal charges had been filed in the case by Tuesday morning.

With The Associated Press.