Image: Search for children
Bill Starling  /  AP
Mobile County sheriff's Lt. Richard Cayton scans the waters of the Mississippi Sound on Thursday from the top of the Dauphin Island Bridge. Searchers are looking for the bodies of four young children who are believed to have been thrown off the 80-foot-high bridge.
By Associated Press Writer
updated 1/11/2008 2:26:18 PM ET 2008-01-11T19:26:18

High winds hampered search crews early Friday as they resumed looking off the Alabama coast for the bodies of four children believed to have been thrown from a bridge by their father.

The weather kept aircraft from joining personnel in boats, even as the search area expanded from the 100 square miles combed since Tuesday to 150 square miles, Mobile County Sheriff's Maj. Chad Tucker said.

Based in part on a witness' account, investigators believe Lam Luong threw the children, ranging in age from a few months to 3 years, from the highest part of the two-lane Dauphin Island bridge Monday morning. At that point, the bridge is about 80 feet above the Intracoastal Waterway.

Luong, 37, was denied bond Thursday on four charges of capital murder. District Attorney John Tyson Jr. said Luong confessed to investigators that he had thrown the children off the bridge after an argument with his wife.

Claims of coerced confession
Luong's court-appointed lawyer, Joe Kulakowski, said the confession was coerced and that his client gave the children to a woman who claimed to know their mother and would get them food and clothes.

Kulakowski said officers should be searching for the woman and a second woman who left with the children in a van.

The Alabama coast has a substantial number of Asian immigrants working in the seafood industry. Luong had worked as a shrimper in the fishing village of Bayou La Batre.

In the waters off Dauphin Island, near the mouth of Mobile Bay, investigators were using sonar equipment that has turned up debris, logs, fish traps, hurricane detritus — even a baby shoe that Tucker said led searchers to a nearby river, but no bodies.

The search was expected to continue through the weekend.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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