2 Children Locked in a Car Drown When Suv Rolls into a Creek after Mom Leaves Them to Go Shopping

Jaimie-lee Prince
Mar 12, 2019
07:45 P.M.

The mother of two children who died when the car they were in rolled into a Mississippi creek was arrested and charged for their deaths.


Four-year-old Steve Smith and one-year-old Rasheed Johnson Jr tragically drowned on Saturday, March 9 around 6 p.m when their mother went inside a Stop-n-Go store to do shopping.

Their sister, two-year-old Raelynn Johnson, was also in the SUV as it rolled into Deer Creek. Their mother Jenea Monique Payne said she was gone for no more than 10 minutes before returning to her vehicle.

She called the police, but rescue services did not obtain the children from the Nissan Pathfinder till about 8 p.m. Payne, 25, was charged with two counts of negligent homicide and one count of child neglect.

She was later released on a recognizance bond. In reference to the initial arrest, Leland Police Chief Marcus said:

"She ended up leaving three minors unattended for a length of time when she went into a store. That's illegal in itself. That was part of the negligence that led ultimately to their deaths."


According to Davis, it's likely that the four-year-old started the vehicle with the keys which Payne had left in the ignition.

Investigators determined that Steve put the car in neutral, allowing it to roll into the creek. It is unclear how he might have cranked the SUV with the brakes.

The department released a statement which read:

“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."

Payne said the car was turned off when she left, while witnesses say it was running and in park at the time. Rasheed was sleeping at the back with his sister. Steve was at the front wearing a seatbelt.


Fire Chief Johnson and other firefighters were only able to rescue Raelynn when they entered the creek. They had to return to safety before retrieving the two boys.

Venutti Towing pulled out the white vehicle from the creek later on. Then Washington County Coroner Melton Johnson pronounced the two toddlers dead on the scene at 8:37 p.m.

A similar incident occurred in October 2018. This time, a child was forgotten in a locked car and ended up dying. The 21-month-old little girl was forgotten inside her father's car as he went to work.

Instead of taking the child to the nursery, the Spanish national drove to the district of Hortaleza in Madrid and left his daughter inside the vehicle. When the mother arrived at the nursery at 3 p.m. that day, they told her her daughter was never dropped off.

She located the father's car and used spare keys to open it. Sadly, paramedics called to the scene were unable to revive the little girl. She had experienced cardiac arrest and was declared dead on the scene.

Another similar story thankfully ended with a young life being saved. On Thursday, February 14, a Florida man strapped his one-year-old daughter in the car seat of his Chevrolet Tahoe SUV.


He then locked his cars inside the vehicle. Unable to get his daughter out himself, he called the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Luckily, there were deputies near the New Port Rickey courthouse where the man was stuck.

The deputies were with five low-risk inmates repairing meridians. Instead of the police saving the day, the offenders turned out to be the ones who would make the big rescue.

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