Deaths Of 3 Children Found On Coney Island Ruled As Homicides
By Jason Hall
September 14, 2022
Officials confirmed that siblings Oliver Bondarev, 3 month old; Lilana Merdy, 4 years old; and Zachary Merdy, 7 years old, all drowned prior to being located along the water's edge at the beach.
The children's mother, Erin Merdy, 30, was found soaking wet and barefoot on the boardwalk shortly after a relative who was concerned for the children's safety called 911 early Monday (September 12) morning.
NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said Merdy was with other relatives, but not her children, at the time.
Police located the children along the shoreline but were unsuccessful in efforts to revive them.
The children were later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. No charges have been filed in relation to the children's deaths as of Wednesday (September 14).
The New York City Administration for Children's Services declined to mention whether the family had a history with child protective services prior to the children's deaths, according to NBC News.
“Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of all children in New York City. We are investigating this tragedy with the NYPD,” a spokesperson for the agency said in an email.
Records obtained by NBC News show that Merdy was served an eviction notice for her apartment just prior to the COVID-19 eviction moratorium expired in January and those familiar with her situation described her as being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of raising two young children and a newborn.
Allen McFarland, who coached Merdy's 7-year-old son for the Coney Island Training Youth Silverbacks football team, told NBC News that Merdy pulled Zachary from the team several months ago and "kind of took him out abruptly."
McFarland said the team honored Zachary during their practice on Monday, releasing balloons shaped like his jersey number 15.
“It was very difficult,” McFarland said via NBC News. “A lot of kids were very spaced out in a sense. I tried to keep some normality and some freedom to allow them to just go play and play with freedom away from the circumstance, but a lot of them just took it very hard."