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Attempted murder charges for Ebony Wilkerson, mom who drove van full of kids into ocean

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A pregnant South Carolina woman who drove a minivan carrying her three young children into the ocean surf off Florida faces attempted murder and other charges Friday, with authorities saying the children were screaming to bystanders that she was trying to kill them.

Bystanders and officers helped rescue 32-year-old Ebony Wilkerson and her children, ages 3, 9 and 10, from their minivan as it was almost submerged on Tuesday on Daytona Beach.

Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said Wilkerson has denied trying to hurt her children. However, the children told investigators otherwise and witnesses said she tried to keep them from rescuing them. The windows were rolled up and the doors were locked, and one of the children tried to wrestle the steering wheel away from her, Johnson said.

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

One of the children lowered the windows and the siblings yelled for help, attracting the bystanders, a sheriff's office report said. 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 left the vehicle with her children inside, the report said.

Wilkerson was placed in custody of the sheriff's office Friday after she had been hospitalized for a mental evaluation since Tuesday. Her children were with the Department of Children and Families. Wilkerson faces three counts each of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, Johnson said.

"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."

Hours before driving into the ocean, Wilkerson's sister worriedly called police, saying her had talked about demons when she left her sister's house in Daytona Beach, a police report said. Her sister worriedly called Daytona Beach police.

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.

"It was clear during my conversation that Wilkerson was suffering from some form of mental illness, but she was lucid and did not provide any signs that she met Baker Act requirements," the Daytona Beach police officer said in the report.

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.

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SULLIMECHANICAL March 07 2014 at 4:07 PM

I just seems that more and more people are going off the deep end everyday. What this woman has done is absolutely crazy, she needs to be in a hospital for the insane, because this act was insane.

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1 reply
bradbarb69 SULLIMECHANICAL March 07 2014 at 4:09 PM

Not enough beds for them all lol

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1 reply
mielkele bradbarb69 March 07 2014 at 7:42 PM

That is not funny. A Virginia state rep. was knifed by his son several hours after he sought hospitalization for him and was told there was none. The son killed himself.

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vobox3343 March 07 2014 at 5:10 PM

This lady was definitely mentally ill.

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lllowry March 07 2014 at 5:15 PM

It is wonderful that so many people ran to assist the family! My heart goes out to these children!

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harolddundee March 07 2014 at 5:21 PM

Obviously this woman has mental problems.

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atsistsi1 March 07 2014 at 3:22 PM

The father of the children should not get them either .If he is mean to her he will be mean to them.

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1 reply
colohiker49 atsistsi1 March 07 2014 at 3:26 PM

Define mean.

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jesse rhan March 07 2014 at 6:24 PM

Let Me Guess??? HUMMMMM She's Crazy???

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diade3 March 07 2014 at 3:51 PM

and pregant again.... how sad for those poor children. why do women have babies when they are mentally ill. no one thinks of the kids ever..

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3 replies
glosieyes March 07 2014 at 3:17 PM

since when do lifeguards wear blue?

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RockNHula March 07 2014 at 3:15 PM

The Baker Act, the foundation for California's 5150 ordinance (almost identical to Florida), specifies, if a person is a danger to themselves or others, they can be involuntarily detained for a mental health evaluation, for minimum of 72 hours, not including weekends. The fact this woman did not present crazy behavior to the officer is of no value. Unless he/she is trained in these people, he might not know how normal craziness can seem. At the very least, the children need to be removed from her and placed in foster care--or with family, and she needs in-patient therapy. If she is desperate, a drug/alcohol user, this can be one answer. If she is "hearing voices" that takes longer to solve. Have a good day! Ben, the PI, in Hawaii. even my state's abbreviation is friendly.

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strange5119 March 07 2014 at 6:59 PM

I think it's sad! Whenever this happens family, friends always say they had no idea how severe the depression or desperation is for the person, or why didn't they say something to someone?!
Everyone is busy with their own world and issues, honestly people don't want to hear about it and definitely don't want to get involved. Being in an abusive relationship will make you crazy and take you out of yourself! Unfortunately or fortunately, she will now get the attention she needs as well as the children.

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1 reply
Sonja strange5119 March 07 2014 at 7:24 PM

I would say, keep your legs together, get birth controll pills, no need bring more kid, specially if she is an the end of rope, no way out.
when will you women listen.
I wish you well.
sincerly sonja wolff

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