Shocking reports of a pregnant mom who drove her three kids into the ocean in Daytona Beach, Florida rocked the nation this week.
"Our mommy's trying to kill us!"
With rescuers reporting screams from her kids of, "Our mommy's trying to kill us!" ringing through crashing ocean waves, was this mom in fact trying to kill her kids?
Feverish ocean rescue
About 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday evening, bystanders recorded video of a frantic effort to rescue children from a minivan bobbing on the shores of Daytona Beach. Reportedly, a pregnant 32-year-old named Ebony Wilkerson of Cross, South Carolina, drove the minivan carrying her three children across the beach and right into the ocean.
As passersby quickly turned into rescuers — initially pulling two children from the vehicle through the driver's side door and hatchback door — the mother can be spied slipping out the window and walking towards the shore as the children desperately informed rescuers of a toddler still inside the automobile. All three children, ages 3, 9 and 10 years old, were safely removed from the vehicle and taken to the hospital for examination, where they were reported to be unharmed. But what would motivate the woman to drive her kids into the ocean?
Did mom try to kill her kids?
A shadow of doubt was soon cast upon initial speculations that perhaps a medical incident had caused the horrendous event when Tim Tesseneer of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, one of the first rescuers to reach the minivan, stated to WESH News that the two kids in the backseat were crying and yelling, "Our mommy's trying to kill us, please help!" Tesseneer also told the media network that the mother looked "spaced out," never uttering a word about the toddler still trapped in the car.
Then, as the story unfolded on Wednesday, further suspicion of malicious intention grew when Police Chief Mike Chitwood reported that Wilkerson's sister had called the police a couple of hours before the incident to report that the pregnant mother had been, "talking about demons that day before she left the house." After a wellbeing check by the police, Wilkerson told law enforcement officers that she was headed to her "safe place" with mentions of a domestic violence shelter and fear that her husband would find out, Volusia Sheriff Ben Johnson reported. Wilkerson did not mention being suicidal or homicidal, so the officers were unable to take her into custody under the Baker Act. Soon after, Wilkerson drove her kids in the minivan into the ocean.
But some onlookers, like Michael Bowk from Washington D.C., reported to First Coast News that the mother's intentions seemed clear. Bowk stated that as she tried to enter the water with her minivan, people were chasing her until she seemed to regain control out of the reach of the waves. Then, she turned right back into the ocean and a flurry of rescuers began to flood the water to save the kids. "In our minds, there was no way it was just accidental," Bowk told the media source.
State of mind still unclear
As of the publication of this article, Wilkerson still remained in hospital care where she would undergo an interview and mental evaluation to determine whether charges will be pressed against this pregnant mother. No charges have been filed at this time. The children are under the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families until a background check of family members clears and the children are placed with their loved ones.