Since then, if you visit this spot when there is standing water, you may just see or hear the ghostly children, and possibly the mother.
Image of the area via Google
Commentary: Despite growing up in Salida, I only recently heard this story when my sister and I began talking about ghost stories over the phone. Yep, me, the gatherer o' ghost stories, didn't hear about one from his own home town until after he had been living elsewhere for a good fifteen years.
I have been trying to figure out why I hadn't heard of this story before, and I have two basic ideas. 1) this may be a new story, and as a result is not something that I would have come into contact with as a teenager or child; or, more likely 2) I left Modesto just as people were beginning to routinely go onto the internet (I moved out of Salida in 1996, when computer ownership nationwide was something around half of what it currently is), and as a result access to stories such as this were limited to word-of-mouth, and, frankly, I wasn't the most socially adept teenager, resulting in less opportunities for me to hear the good stories. Interestingly, this story still hasn't made it online (well, I guess it has now since I'm posting it here, but...well, you get the idea).
The story has obvious parallels with La Llarona, but so far I haven't heard a telling of it that contains the same warnings of danger as one gets with La Llarona. It also has obvious legend tripping potential.
Regardless, it's a good little story, and as far as I can tell, I'm the first person to put it on the internet. So, yay me?
Oh, and the odds of drowning in what amounts to a big but shallow mud puddle because your car skidded into it? I'm going to go out on a limb and so that it's close to zero. I wonder if the story was originally cooked up for the larger body of water known as Miller Lake located to the west.
Sources: Local Folkore