Ebony Wilkerson, a pregnant South Carolina woman told her children she was “trying to take them to a better place” before she rolled up the windows and pointed her minivan towards the ocean according to ABCNews. After driving into the Daytona Beach surf, bystanders ran to rescue her screaming children from the water although Wilkerson tried to reassure them that “everyone was OK”. They ignored her and pulled two girls and a boy, ages 3, 9 and 10 through the windows to safety.
A county sheriff says Wilkerson was in the custody of the sheriff’s office after being hospitalized for a mental evaluation. The 32 year-old North Charleston mother is being charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child abuse causing great bodily harm. Volusia County Court Judge Shirley Green set her bond at $1.2 million. A date for an arraignment was not released.
Wilkerson tried to deny that she was doing her children any harm and told investigators she was simply riding too close to the waves and got pulled in, but her children quickly confessed the truth. “Mom tried to kill us,” they told detectives, “Mom is crazy.” They explained to authorities that they in fact were fleeing their father in South Carolina and had come to Florida earlier in the week. They said the family had a history of violence and that their mother had began speaking to Jesus since they had come to stay with her sister in Daytona Beach.
One of the rescuers, Tim Tesseneer, said Wilkerson’s eyes were wide open and she looked “possessed.” “It was clear during my conversation that Wilkerson was suffering from some form of mental illness, but she was lucid,” a Daytona Beach police officer said in a report.
Her sister, Jessica Harell says she tried to intervene earlier. The day before she tried to get her sister checked out at a hospital knowing that she had recently left an abusive relationship. She informed police she had taken a set of car keys away from her earlier in the day, but Wilkerson found another set before taking off with the children.
This situation could have had a very tragic ending so we’re glad no one was hurt. It just goes to show that battered women need as much support as they can get when leaving an abusive relationship.