NC mother accused of driving drunk, crashing car into river with children inside

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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — State troopers arrested a Gastonia woman after she crashed her car into the South Catawba Fork River while her children were in the back seat.

Troopers told WSOC-TV that Connie Jo Penland, 26, was impaired when she failed to stop at the “T” intersection at Lowell Spencer Mountain Road and Sutton Carpenter Road. The crash happened around 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

Connie Jo Penland, 26, of Gastonia

Connie Jo Penland, 26, of Gastonia

Penland’s children, 6 and 7, were in the back seat. Troopers said 8 inches of water were in the car when they first arrived.

Troopers said the suspect was so belligerent she thought she was in Kings Mountain, nearly 30 minutes away, and yelled at first responders.

She’s charged with DWI, reckless driving and two counts of child abuse.

“It’s sad she was drinking and not thinking about those kids’ lives,” said Rachel Moore, a resident who lives at the intersection where the crash happened.

All three occupants of the car were taken to the hospital. Officials said Penland had abrasions to her face, legs and arms.

Troopers said there was no information on the status of the children besides that they had been turned over to their aunt. Both children were wearing seat belts at the time of the incident.

As of Saturday evening, Penland was being held in Gaston County Jail on $25,000 bond. She has court planned on Aug. 18.


  • FaithC

    Turned over to their Aunt, who will turn them over to her as soon as she is out.
    Where are the fathers in all this?

    • dimples

      Where is YOUR father???? Or job for THAT matter!!! YOU ARE ON EVERY news report I read! Get a life! Glad the children are ok.

      • l337g33k

        Sooo, by that same token. Does that also apply to you? Seeing as you’re on the same news reports.

  • NobodyAtAll

    So did she “crash” into the river or “drive” into the river? There is a difference..Anyway, let’s argue..

    • l337g33k

      I think it’s rather a matter of semantics when a vehicle is involved in a body of water. Crash or drive…. the result seems the same.

  • Jeanie Nelson

    She should never have custody of those children again. I had a biological mother just like her who was always trying to kill me when I was a child. I was finally put in a home for children and survived.

  • NRA4ever

    every day, we see our society in decline. common decency and personal responsibility lessen by the day. trashy people become more trashy. i’m sure the politicians will find a solution.

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