Pregnant Mom Who Drove Van With Kids Inside Into Ocean Charged

ebony wilkerson

Daytona Beach, FL - The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office files charges against the pregnant South Carolina woman who drove her minivan into the Atlantic Ocean with her 3 kids on board.

In a press conference Friday afternoon from the Volusia County Emergency Operations Center, Sheriff Ben Johnson announced that they are charging 32-year-old Ebony T. Wilkerson (picture courtesy Volusia County Jail) with 3 counts of premeditated attempted first-degree murder and 3 counts of aggravated child abuse.

This comes less than a day after a South Carolina newspaper reported that the driver of that black Honda Odyssey was cited in a fatal accident in 2007 in Delray Beach. (Click here for more on that story.)

Authorities say Wilkerson was driving the van around 3/4th of a mile south of the beach approach on Silver Beach Avenue when she made a hard left and drove the van right into 4 feet of surf.

Bystanders and officers with Volusia County Beach Safety & Ocean Rescue jumped into the cold water to rescue the children as Wilkerson walked away from the van.

Johnson said they decided to press charges because Wilkerson allegedly locked the doors of her 2012 Honda Odyssey, rolled the windows up and told her 3 kids – a 3-year-old girl, 9-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl – to close their eyes and go to sleep before driving into the surf.

Investigators say she then ignored the children’s pleas for help, insisting that she was taking herself and her three children to “a safer place.”

That, according to Johnson, made what she did an intentional act designed to kill her children, especially after the children told VCSO their mother tried to kill them. The oldest child even told deputies she tried to grab the steering wheel from her mom as the vehicle went in the water.

The kids did manage to lower the windows of the van and scream for help, which attracted the attention of bystanders.

Wilkerson was arrested at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, where she had been taken on Tuesday for a mental health evaluation.

Wilkerson was booked into the Volusia County Jail and held without bond.

Click here for Wilkerson’s full arrest report from VCSO.

Click here for VCBS’s report of the incident.

Copyright 2014 Southern Stone Communications.

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