Officials: Impaired woman crashed car into river with children in back seat

by: Blake Hanson Updated:

GASTON COUNTY - 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.

Connie Jo Penland, 26, was impaired when she failed to stop at the "T" intersection at Lowell Spencer Mountain Road and Sutton Carpenter Road, according to troopers. The crash happened around 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

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.

According to troopers, Penland 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 transported to the hospital. Penland had abrasions to her face, legs and arms.

Troopers told Eyewitness News that 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.