Police: Woman faces charges after driving car into Texas bayou with infant inside


by Malini Basu, KHOU 11 News/Gannett Affiliate


Posted on May 28, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 28 at 11:00 AM

GALVESTON, Texas – Police say a mother drove her car into a bayou with her 6-month-old son in the back seat. Four teenagers fishing jumped into save her.

Nathan Reyna, Tyler Arcizo, Byron Bledsoe, and Matt Guzman were fishing at Washington Park when they noticed a woman driving her car into Offatts Bayou. It was all caught on cell phone video.

“We heard several clanks, and we saw a car going in slowly but surely into the ocean,” said Nathan Reyna, who helped save the mother and baby. Screaming can be heard in the cell phone video: “Get out, she has a baby, she has a baby.”

Everyone started to panic, but 19-year-old Arcizo risked his own life.

“Once the car was tipping, you see the car seat for the baby tip over. My friend was like there is a baby, there is a baby,” said Arcizo, who jumped in the water.

In the cell phone video, you can hear the rescuers yell at the woman: “He’s underwater, he’s underwater. Hold him up, hold him up. Hey, don’t worry about yourself. Worry about your baby, your baby is underwater.”

Galveston Police said 31-year-old Latonya Kirven didn’t want to rescued. Investigators said Kirven was drunk with the 6-month-old baby boy in the car.

“I was struggling with her to get the baby from her. She wouldn’t give him up. She kept pulling him from me and putting him under water,” Arcizo said. “I lift him up a little bit and one of my friends got a hold of him. And she was holding on to the other arm. And he kind of got stuck and you don’t want to tug on a baby and dislocate his leg or anything.”

Witnesses said after the baby was rescued, Kirven started doing the back stroke and took off her clothes.

“Once I got on shore, we looked and see this lady, at first she was struggling. Like she didn’t know how to swim or she was panicking. Once everyone was away from her she just was back stroking in the water and was taking her clothes off,” Arcizo said. “She was acting crazy. It wasn’t normal. She’s in jail. That’s where she needs to be honestly. I have nothing else to say to her. I don’t even know the lady. She needs to stay where she is at.”

Arcizo lost some of his belongings, but he’s OK with that.

“I lost the keys to my Camaro in the water, and my wallet. No big deal, it’s alright. Just glad the baby is safe, that’s all that matters,” Arcizo said.

“She seemed like nothing happened, no emotion,” Reyna said.

Minutes before this, Kirven got into an argument with someone, police said. Then hit a 70-year-old man, who is in critical condition.

At the end of the day, Galveston’s Police Chief Henry Porretto said:

“Would like to commend those bystanders who risked their own safety to enter the water to rescue the child and attempt to rescue the driver. Their actions were truly heroic.”

Kirven is charged with driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle and aggravated assault with deadly weapon, court records state. She is being held on bonds totaling $160,000.