Pregnant Woman Drives Children Into Ocean, Charged With Attempted Murder

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 03/10/2014 | 09:45 AM EDT

Mother drives her minivan into ocean at Daytona Beach with three youngsters inside

A pregnant woman has been charged with attempted murder and child abuse after driving her minivan into the ocean with her three children inside.

Ebony Wilkerson
, 32, nearly killed herself, her unborn child and three other children, ages 3, 9 and 10, after she shockingly drove her vehicle right onto Daytona Beach and into the ocean. Bystanders and officers rushed to the scene to rescue the woman and children.

Wilkerson has denied trying to harm her kids, however, authorities say the children told investigators she was trying to kill them. Witnesses said the mother even tried to stop them from rescuing them. According to reports, the windows were rolled up and the doors were locked, and one of the children tried to wrestle the steering wheel away from her.

“She told them to close their eyes and go to sleep. She was trying to take them to a better place,” said the Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson.

One of the children lowered the windows and the siblings yelled for help, which got the attention of bystanders. Wilkerson told them “everyone was OK” but the children screamed that their mother was trying to kill them. As water rushed into the minivan, Wilkerson reportedly left the vehicle with her children inside.

Wilkerson was hospitalized for a mental evaluation before being placed into custody. She’s been charged with three counts each of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. Her children were placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.

Hours before driving into the ocean, Wilkerson’s sister called police, saying Wilkerson had talked about demons when she left her house in Daytona Beach, a police report said. After the call to dispatch, police officers stopped Wilkerson’s black Honda Odyssey and she expressed fear that her husband would be coming to Florida to harm her and her children. The children were sitting quietly, smiling, and showed no signs of distress, the police report said.

The Florida Mental Health Act, commonly known as the Baker Act, allows authorities to involuntarily take people into custody if they seem to be a threat to themselves. Family members told investigators that Wilkerson was in an abusive relationship and that she had come to Florida to get away from her husband, according to the sheriff’s office report.

(Photo: AP Photo/Volusia (Fla.) County Corrections)

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