Community still hurting 25 years after Union Co. mom drowns 2 boys

State - Regional

UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – October 25 marked 25 years since a Union County mother drowned her two little boys in a lake.

7 News spoke with folks who said they are still feeling the pain a quarter of a century later.

“I’ve seen a lot of bad things. I’ve been in military hospitals, where people were shot and burned, but those were soldiers; and bad things happen to soldiers in harm’s way,” former SLED agent Eddie Harris said. “But these were innocent children, thinking they were going somewhere for a ride with their mother, and next thing they know, they’re in that cold water.”

If you’re from Union County, there’s a good chance you know who Susan Smith is, and you know what she did to her children.

“You can’t think about it everyday, all day, but I think of it often and a lot,” Harris said.

After lying about a carjacking and kidnapping, and claiming a black man did it, Susan Smith admitted to killing her two young sons, Alex and Michael, by drowning them in John D. Long Lake.

“She said, ‘The kids are in the car and the car is in the lake,'” Harris said.

Twenty-five years later and Eddie Harris is still coping with what he calls one of the worst cases he ever worked as an agent with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

“When we pulled that car out of that lake that night, the lights were still on. They were still burning,” Harris said. “One little boy had one shoe kicked off, and I can remember that. And that stuck with and will still stick with me if I live to be 100 years old. That kid struggled to live.”

But Harris isn’t the only one still impacted by the tragedy.

Tine and Wayne Huffstetler make a point to go by John D. Long Lake every year on this day to pay tribute to the little boys who lost their lives.

“It’s hard to put something like that to the side, when there’s children involved,” Wayne Huffstetler said. “The woman who did this has no soul.”

“You automatically think a mother is going to protect her children at all costs, even if it’s with her own life,” Tina Huffstetler added. “I wonder what the children would have been now if their lives had not been cut so short. Wonder what they would’ve grown up to be.”

Even though 25 years have passed, the hurt in the hearts of those still in Union County remains fresh as ever. But community members told 7 News they’ve grown stronger because of it.

“The community came together after it was torn apart,” Harris said.

“People still visit and they still remember Michael and Alex, and they always will,” Tina Huffstetler said.

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