Mom Charged With Attempted 1st-Degree Murder After Driving Kids Into the Ocean

The South Carolina woman, who drove a minivan carrying her three children into the ocean surf, was also charged with child abuse.

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Ebony Wilkerson

Courtesy of Volusia County (Fla.) Corrections 

Thirty-two-year-old Ebony Wilkerson's three children were reportedly screaming for their lives when she drove a minivan into the ocean surf off of Florida, the Associated Press reports.

The children, ages 3, 9 and 10, were rescued Tuesday by bystanders and officers as the minivan was almost submerged off a coast in Daytona Beach, Fla. Wilkerson, who is pregnant, was charged Friday with three counts each of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, police said.

Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said that while she denied trying to harm her children, they disputed her claim. Witnesses also stated that she tried to block their rescue and the windows were rolled up and the doors were locked. One of the children reportedly tried to wrest control of the steering wheel, the AP reports.

"She told them to close their eyes and go to sleep," Johnson said, according to the AP. "She was trying to take them to a better place."

Wilkerson was turned over to the sheriff's office Friday after undergoing a mental health evaluation. The three children were placed in the care of the Department of Children and Families.

"You're supposed to protect your children at all costs," Johnson said at a news conference. "You're not supposed to try to kill your children."

Just hours before driving into the ocean, Wilkerson's sister placed a worried call tp police, saying Wilkerson had talked about demons when she left her sister's house in Daytona Beach, a police report said, AP reports.

Read more at the Associated Press.