A pregnant South Carolina woman will be charged with 3 counts of attempted murder, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Ebony Wilkerson, 32, drove her family's minivan into the ocean off Daytona Beach, Florida on Tuesday. Witnesses said Wilkerson rolled up the windows and told bystanders everything was fine. But her 3 children told a different story. The frantic children rolled a window down and told bystanders their mother was trying to kill them.
"She told them to close their eyes and go to sleep. She was trying to take them to a better place," Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said. He said Wilkerson denied wanting to harm her children -- ages 10, 9, and 3.
Wilkerson is reportedly linked to a fatal traffic accident that occurred in Delray Beach on Feb. 23, 2007.
The Post and Courier reports Wilkerson changed lanes on Interstate 95, causing another driver to lose control of his vehicle and slam into a tree. The driver survived but his 35-year-old wife died from her injuries 2 weeks later.
Wilkerson was cited for improper lane change, according to court records.
Hours before the Daytona Beach incident, Wilkerson's sister called Daytona Beach police to say Wilkerson talked about demons before leaving the house with the children. Jessica Harrell told police she hid the keys to the minivan to prevent her sister from leaving. She said Wilkerson found another set of keys and left the house.
Police stopped the black Honda Odyssey a short time later, but they had to let Wilkerson go because she was "lucid" and did not present a danger to herself or the public.
The police report stated the children were sitting quietly, smiling, and showed no signs of distress.
After driving into the ocean, Wilkerson jumped out of the driver's side window and did not attempt to save her children. Bystanders and lifeguards carried the children to safety.
Wilkerson was admitted into a psych facility for a court ordered mental evaluation.
Johnson said the children "were a bit shaken up by the incident," but they were uninjured. "They are in our protective custody and they are safe."
"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."
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