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Kalamazoo — Two young girls were alone and distraught Monday night when they were found by a relative and brought to police.

The story they told officers was horrific: Their grandmother had driven into the water with two other girls, said police.

But the granddaughters, who were let out of the car shortly before the incident, weren’t sure where it occurred.

Police said they eventually found the car, submerged in the Kalamazoo River, pulling out the bodies of Ineza McClinton of Grand Rapids and her 9-year-old twins, Faith and Angel.

The discovery left the community stunned.

“Why would someone do this? To their own kids?” resident Lisa Morton asked while visiting the site where the car was found.

McClinton, 44, a mother of six, had been in contact with Children’s Protective Services in the last two years, said police. But the reason for the contact wasn’t known.

The state agency couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Police are asking the same questions as residents but have few answers.

“What we’re all dealing with is ‘Why?’” said Karianne Thomas, chief of Kalamazoo Public Safety. “We just don’t have those answers. I don’t know if we ever will.”

One of McClinton’s daughters told a local TV station that her mother had recently talked about being tired, sad and lonely.

McClinton had come to Kalamazoo to visit family and had planned to stay several days, the daughter, Tishyron McClinton, told WWMT-TV.

“She didn’t seem like herself,” said Tishyron. “She was having some difficulties in her life.”

But Tishyron said she and other family members had no clue her mother might do something like this.

McClinton was last seen leaving a family member’s home with her two daughters and two granddaughters, relatives told police.

She dropped the granddaughters off at a Walgreens, telling them to wait for their uncle, said police.

Family members contacted police and the two girls, who are younger than 10, relayed their harrowing tale Monday at 11 p.m.

“This is just a tragedy,” said Thomas. “This is just a tragedy for our community.”

The two girls had no idea where the incident occurred. For some reason, officers focused on a part of the Kalamazoo River near Verburg Park, which is where they found the submerged sedan.

Police soon found the bodies of McClinton and one of her daughters, but it wouldn’t be until Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. that a dive team from Michigan State Police would find the second.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

The tragedy is being felt throughout the community, said Thomas.

“Everyone is suffering with something,” she said. “We just don’t know. But hopefully we can reach out and prevent tragedies like this in the future.”

As news of the harrowing event trickled through the city, some residents stopped by Verburg Park, the riverfront park near the site of the drownings.

They openly wondered how someone, especially a parent, could do something so horrifying.

"It makes you think they had real problems," said resident Kay Russell. "It's too terrible to think of."

Others bemoaned the city's sad litany of high-profile crimes in the past few years, including Jason Dalton, an Uber driver who killed six people, and Charles Pickett, a pickup driver who killed five cyclists.

fdonnelly@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4186

Twitter: @francisXdonnell

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