Crack addict father tosses children off bridge

Ngoc Phan and three of her children, from left: Lindsey Luong, Ryan Phan and Hannah Luong.

Ngoc Phan and three of her children, from left: Lindsey Luong, Ryan Phan and Hannah Luong.
Photo: AP

A drug-addicted father has told US authorities he hurled his four children, the youngest just four months old, off a bridge in Alabama after a fight with his wife.

Vietnamese man Lam Luong, 37, was today charged with four counts of capital murder as divers searched the murky waters for the bodies of the children, aged up to three years.

Luong had a crack habit and had argued with his wife, Ngoc Phan, before taking the children, said Phan's brother-in-law, Kam Phengsisomboun.

He said the family initially feared Luong had sold the children to support his drug habit.

Luong's girlfriend was a factor in the couple's argument on Sunday and Monday morning, family members and police said.

Authorities said they believe Luong then drove on Monday to the two-lane Dauphin Island bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, stopped at the highest part of the span and threw the youngsters over the side.

Luong reported the children missing on Monday, initially telling police that he had given the kids to his girlfriend, who was living in a nearby hotel, and that she failed to return them.

But authorities said they found holes in his account, and he later changed his story.

Missing and presumed dead were four-month-old Danny Luong; Lindsey Luong, 1; Hannah Luong, 2; and Ryan Phan, 3. Phan is not the man's biological child, but Luong raised him from infancy, authorities said.

The search was called off late this afternoon when dense fog rolled in, obscuring the bridge. It will resume tomorrow, weather permitting.
Luong is scheduled to face court tomorrow.

Luong came to Alabama from Vietnam in 1984 and worked as a shrimper, Phengsisomboun said.

The couple lived with Phan's mother at Bayou La Batre, a fishing village 32km southwest of Mobile with a large Southeast Asian community.

Luong's crack habit was so bad that he quickly ran through an insurance settlement he received from a car crash, Phengsisomboun said.

Authorities in Mobile confirmed Luong had a history of drug abuse but had no details.

Luong's wife, 23, was being cared for today at her mother's home.

Some family members and friends held out hope that the children were not dead.

"I just pray for the kids, that they are still alive,'' said Van Lam, a family friend.