Ebony Wilkerson has been identified as the pregnant woman who drove a minivan with her three children inside into the Atlantic Ocean off of Daytona Beach earlier this week. The 32-year-old South Carolina woman has now been charged with attempted murder as more details of the incident come forward.
The incident happened on Tuesday. Witnesses say Wilkerson drive the van down the beach and then made a sharp turn into the ocean. The aftermath was caught on camera the mother and her three kids, age 3, 9, and 10, were rescued. Witnesses said that after the rescue one of the children said that there mother was trying to kill them.
Official police statements now seem to confirm that story.
"She told them to close their eyes and go to sleep. She was trying to take them to a better place," said Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson according to WPEC.
Police say that the van's windows were rolled up, the doors were locked, and one of the children even tried to take control of the steering wheel away form the mother. One child however was able to role down a window and yell for help.
Luckily the mother and all three children were not physically injured.
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The family had apparently been staying in Wilkerson's sister's house in Daytona Beach. Wilkerson had apparently fled from an abusive husband back in South Carolina. Hours before the incident her sister had called police because she was worried by Wilkerson's talk of demons.
Police tracked down the van and stopped Wilkerson. She explained that she was worried her husband would come down to Florida and hurt the family. During the stop the children seemed fine. The officer involved was worried about Wilkerson's mental state, but she did not meet requirements to be retained under the Baker Act.
Wilkerson was held in a mental health facility for three days and underwent a mental examination. She has since been released back to police. The children are in the custody of other family members.
She now faces three charges of attempted first degree murder as well as aggravated child abuse.