Ebony Wilkerson, the mother who drove her van (with her three kids inside) into the ocean from Daytona Beach on Tuesday, has been charged on three counts of attempted murder. She was arrested Friday after being released from Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.
The tragedy followed an incident with her husband that occurred several days prior. Wilkerson, 32, called 911 on Saturday to report her husband for raping her in a South Carolina hotel. Family states that she is in an abusive relationship and according to court records, her husband has a history of abuse with a previous charge of abuse and battery. He was questioned about the attack, but no charges were made at that time. After the alleged incident, she headed down to Florida in her van, along with her three children who are three, nine and 10 years old.
According to witnesses, she drove erratically through the beach and proceeded right into the Pacific Ocean. She ignored the children’s scared pleas. They tried to take control over the steering wheel, but she overpowered them. Once the van was fighting the waves of the ocean, the kids managed to unlock the windows. They lowered the windows enough to scream for help. Their screams were heard by passerbys and several lifeguards, who rushed out to the van to rescue them.
Wilkerson assured the concerned citizens that everything was fine, but the situation at hand, as well as the children’s cries, told them otherwise. They screamed that their mother was trying to drown them. One of the lifeguards, Tim Tessener, said that the two younger kids were in the backseat, arms outstretched, saying, “Our mommy is trying to kill us, please help.” Lifeguards got the kids safely out of the vehicle and none of them sustained any serious injuries. The pregnant mother who drove them into the water off of Daytona Beach was also unharmed. One lifeguard got caught up in the rocky van and needed the help of another lifeguard to get out of the vehicle.
According to Sheriff Ben Johnson, “Wilkerson tried to intentionally kill her three kids.” She asked the kids to close their eyes and told them they were “going to a better place.”
Their father has not yet spoken with authorities, but the mother is denying the charges. She has remained calm throughout the investigation. She is to appear in court Saturday. Authorities want to make sure she does not have another opportunity to harm her kids, especially after finding a connection between her and another deadly incident in 2007. As a result of an improper lane change, the passenger from another car died when the vehicle hit a concrete barrier.
The mother who drove her kids into the ocean off of Daytona Beach is also seven months pregnant. Wilkerson is faced with three counts of attempted murder for trying to drown her kids in the Atlantic Ocean. The frightened children are fine after what witnesses described as a “terrifying” ordeal. They are in the custody of the state.
By Tracy Rose