Onlookers, including the Leland Fire Chief, had seen the vehicle floating in Deer Creek and tried to rescue the children. But they were only successful in getting one child, Raelynn Johnson, 2, out of the SUV before having to abandon the rescue, WAPT reported.
A dive team eventually found the SUV around 8 p.m. and towed it from the water. The two boys, Rasheed Johnson Jr., 1 year old, and Steve Smith, 4, were found dead inside the Nissan.
Payne was charged with two counts of manslaughter-culpable negligence and a count of child neglect, police told WAPT.