Boater saves 5-year-old from mother during attempted murder-suicide

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – A man fought through broken glass to rescue a 5-year-old boy after the child’s mother drove her car into Jordan Lake May 14, according to search warrants.

Leonora Cillay of Cary was taken into custody and charged Thursday shortly after she was released from a hospital in Chapel Hill.

A report from the state Division of Parks and Recreation said Cillay told park rangers that “an organization was after her son and this was the best option” to save him.

According to the search warrants, five witnesses saw Cillay drive her car off a boat ramp with a child inside. Guy Larry Plotz told investigators he saw a woman in a silver sedan parked at the Seafort boat ramp. The woman then drove the car toward the water at a high rate of speed and plunged into the water.

Leonora Cillay
Leonora Cillay

Plotz raced toward the water but the car was already past the dock.

At that point, pontoon boat captain David James Caviness, according to the search warrants, saw what happened and positioned his boat to try to move the car back toward the shore.

“Caviness could see Cillay in the driver’s side front seat with her arms around her child, who was also in the driver’s side front seat facing Cillay,” the warrants said.

Caviness reached his hand through the sunroof, but Cillay refused help and closed Caviness’ hand in the sunroof. Somehow the sunroof opened and Caviness pulled Cillay out despite her resistance. He also noticed liquor bottles in the car.

With the car sinking and filling with water, the back window broke and water began to rush over the boy. Caviness cleared out the glass, getting cut in the process, and pulled the child from the car.

He handed the child to Plotz, who was on the dock.

The warrants said a note was left on the shore, along with a set of keys.

The warrant asked for the right to search the Cary home for more evidence in the case.

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