PORTLAND – The screams of two young children who ended up in the cold Willamette River early Saturday led to a massive search and the arrest of their mother, now accused of killing her 4-year-old son and trying to kill her 7-year-old daughter.
Portland police said 31-year-old Amanda Jo Stott-Smith of suburban Tualatin was taken into custody on the ninth floor of a downtown parking garage around 7 a.m. Saturday.
She threatened to jump off a ledge when officers arrived, said Detective Sgt. Rich Austria of the Portland Police Bureau.
Stott-Smith faces aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder charges, Austria said.
A police spokesman said he did not know late Saturday whether Stott-Smith had contacted an attorney to represent her. Courts reopen Tuesday after the Memorial Day holiday.
Rescuers were unable to revive the boy, Eldon Jay Rebhan Smith, who drowned, according to an autopsy by the state medical examiner. The girl remained in an area hospital Saturday night, Austria said, and was expected to survive.
“She’s doing well,” the detective said. “She has the will to live.”
Police did not release the girl’s name Saturday night and said they had not yet questioned her about the incident.
It was unclear whether the children were pushed or fell into the river, but Austria said it was certain they were on the Sellwood Bridge.
Police were asking the public to call investigators if they saw Stott-Smith’s car, a blue Audi sedan, on the bridge when residents of the area heard the children’s screams and a massive search was launched.
A couple who live in the area and joined the search in their boat found the children in the darkness nearly an hour after screams that moved downstream with the current were heard.
Officers were called to the Sellwood Bridge area around 1:20 a.m. after the screams were reported by residents.
Upon arrival, officers also heard screams on the river but could not locate their source, said Officer Greg Pashley, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman.
Portland Fire Bureau and Multnomah County River Patrol boats also responded to the scene with suburban Milwaukie police. The U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter to assist in the search.
“As you look down into the darkness it’s hard to see anything,” Pashley said. “I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a child in this cold river.”
Austria said information from family members and a missing persons report the father filed with Tualatin police helped authorities identify the children.
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