Kids rescued from surf in Daytona Beach: 'Mom tried to kill us' - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Kids rescued from surf in Daytona Beach: 'Mom tried to kill us'

Posted: Updated:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — After she drove her minivan into the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, authorities say a pregnant South Carolina woman tried to call off bystanders hustling to rescue her three screaming children from the water that was rushing in through the windows.

Ebony Wilkerson, who was charged with attempted murder Friday, said "everyone was OK" and left the van with her children inside, an affidavit said. The bystanders and beach safety officers, paying no mind to her urgings, pulled the two girls and a boy, ages 3, 9 and 10, through the windows Tuesday on Daytona Beach.

Later, Wilkerson denied trying to hurt her children, telling investigators she was driving too close to the water, "and the waves pulled her in," according to the charging affidavit.

Her children told investigators another story.

"Mom tried to kill us," they told detectives, according to the document. "Mom is crazy."

Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said the 32-year-old Wilkerson of North Charleston has been charged with three counts each of first-degree attempted murder and child abuse. She was in the custody of the sheriff's office after being hospitalized for a mental evaluation since dunking the van into the surf.

The children told authorities they had come to Florida from South Carolina earlier in the week to escape their father. They described a history of violence between their parents, and they said their mother had been "acting crazy and speaking to Jesus" since they had come to stay with Wilkerson's sister in Daytona Beach.

The sister, Jessica Harrell, didn't return a phone call from The Associated Press, but she expressed her concerns about Wilkerson's mental health to a 911 dispatcher only hours before the minivan ended up in the ocean.

The children said that while driving south on the beach, their mother pointed at the ocean, locked the doors, rolled up the electric windows and then jerked the steering wheel, sending the minivan into the waves.

One of the children asked her what she was doing, and she said: "'I am keeping us all safe,'" according to the affidavit. The boy tried to wrestle the steering wheel away from Wilkerson.

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

A child also lowered the windows and the siblings yelled for help, attracting the bystanders.

"I've got to do this," Wilkerson told bystander Stacy Robinson as he attempted to intervene, according to the affidavit.

One of the rescuers, Tim Tesseneer, said Wilkerson's eyes were wide open and she looked "possessed." Wilkerson tried to prevent a beach safety officer from entering the vehicle to rescue the toddler who was the last to be removed from the minivan, Tesseneer told detectives. The children are with the Department of Children and Families.

Harrell told the dispatcher she had tried to take her sister to a hospital the day before the minivan ended up in the surf but Wilkerson had checked herself out. She said Wilkerson had been abused by her husband and that police should check on her.

"She's getting a little bit better, but she's still not all there," Harrell said.

Two days before what happened on the beach, Wilkerson told North Charleston police that she was in a violent altercation with her husband of 14 years at a hotel room in Myrtle Beach and gone to a hospital for treatment, according to an incident report. She also told police that after she packed up the car and kids at their apartment, her husband made a motion as if he was going to grab her, but she got into the car before he could, the report said.

She then went to Wal-Mart to cash in some coins so she'd have money for the trip. She reported that she felt a man was staring at her and followed her at the store and to the North Charleston City Hall where police were called. Officers said they gave her a form for a protective order and she refused being taken to a shelter since she was going to Florida.

Myrtle Beach police say they are investigating what happened at the hotel but no charges were filed. Phone numbers for Wilkerson's husband were disconnected.

Harrell told the dispatcher that Wilkerson was "talking about Jesus and how there are demons in my house and how I'm trying to control her but I'm trying to keep them safe."

Harrell said she had taken Wilkerson's car keys away but her sister had found another set and driven off with the children.

After the call to dispatch, Daytona Beach 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," the Daytona Beach police officer said in the report.

___

Associated Press writer Tom Foreman Jr. in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Coach: Referees put football team in danger by letting game continue under lightning

    Coach: Referees put football team in danger by letting game continue under lightning

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:29 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:29:32 GMT
    Safety on the football field is about more than just concussions. One team says it may have been put in danger by lighting. The defensive coordinator even says he saw lighting strike the field and the referees were no help.More >>
    Safety on the football field is about more than just concussions. One team says it may have been put in danger by lighting. The defensive coordinator even says he saw lighting strike the field and the referees were no help.More >>
  • Wounded Warrior Project releases large veterans survey

    Wounded Warrior Project releases large veterans survey

    Monday, September 15 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-09-16 01:12:12 GMT
    Wounded Warrior Project has released the results of their 2014 Annual Alumni Survey. It is based on the responses of more than 21,000 wounded veterans, it includes the largest sample size of service members injured since 9/11. The results indicate the recent passage of sweeping legislation to improve care at the Department of Veterans Affairs comes at a time when more and more injured veterans are seeking care.The two most common problems in accessing healthcare were difficulty in scheduling ...More >>
    Wounded Warrior Project has released the results of their 2014 Annual Alumni Survey. It is based on the responses of more than 21,000 wounded veterans, it includes the largest sample size of service members injured since 9/11. The results indicate the recent passage of sweeping legislation to improve care at the Department of Veterans Affairs comes at a time when more and more injured veterans are seeking care.The two most common problems in accessing healthcare were difficulty in scheduling ...More >>
  • Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:50:27 GMT
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Town Hall meeting on police and minority relations

    Town Hall meeting on police and minority relations

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:35 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:35:18 GMT
    In light of the events in Ferguson, Missouri community and police leaders will be participating in a town hall meeting.A number of people will be there from law enforcement to UAB professors. They will be discussing police and minority relations.More >>
    In light of the events in Ferguson, Missouri community and police leaders will be participating in a town hall meeting.A number of people will be there from law enforcement to UAB professors. They will be discussing police and minority relations.More >>
  • Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:50:27 GMT
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
  • EPA training sessions in Birmingham to combat pollution

    EPA training sessions in Birmingham to combat pollution

    Monday, September 15 2014 2:11 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:11:14 GMT
    The Environmental Protection Agency will host a Clean Air Act Rulemaking and Permitting training session September 16-17, 2014.More >>
    The Environmental Protection Agency will host a Clean Air Act Rulemaking and Permitting training session September 16-17, 2014.More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Town Hall meeting on police and minority relations

    Town Hall meeting on police and minority relations

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:35 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:35:18 GMT
    In light of the events in Ferguson, Missouri community and police leaders will be participating in a town hall meeting.A number of people will be there from law enforcement to UAB professors. They will be discussing police and minority relations.More >>
    In light of the events in Ferguson, Missouri community and police leaders will be participating in a town hall meeting.A number of people will be there from law enforcement to UAB professors. They will be discussing police and minority relations.More >>
  • Anniston appoints new school board member; discusses school consolidation

    Anniston appoints new school board member; discusses school consolidation

    Monday, September 15 2014 9:13 PM EDT2014-09-16 01:13:45 GMT
    The Anniston City Council named a former mayor of Weaver as the city's newest board of education member. Ed Kimbrough will replace Donna Ross, who submitted a letter of resignation two weeks ago as she and her family move out of state. Kimbrough was one of three candidates interviewed by the council for the position, along with former Macon County board of education member Ernest Washington, and Andrew Hatley, who previously served on both the Anniston City Council and Board of Education.More >>
    The Anniston City Council named a former mayor of Weaver as the city's newest board of education member. Ed Kimbrough will replace Donna Ross, who submitted a letter of resignation two weeks ago as she and her family move out of state. Kimbrough was one of three candidates interviewed by the council for the position, along with former Macon County board of education member Ernest Washington, and Andrew Hatley, who previously served on both the Anniston City Council and Board of Education.More >>
  • Should law enforcement be able to use military equipment?

    Should law enforcement be able to use military equipment?

    Friday, September 12 2014 4:10 PM EDT2014-09-12 20:10:46 GMT
    Events in Ferguson, Missouri sparked a debate about law enforcement's use of military equipment. Local agencies say for them, it's about protection.  More >>
    Events in Ferguson, Missouri sparked a debate about law enforcement's use of military equipment. Local agencies say for them, it's about protection.  More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Friday Night Blitz: Coverage lineup for Week 5

    Friday Night Blitz: Coverage lineup for Week 5

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 9:34 AM EDT2014-09-16 13:34:52 GMT
    Week 5 Blitz Game of the Week:DEMOPOLIS VS HELENAMore >>
    Week 5 Blitz Game of the Week:DEMOPOLIS VS HELENAMore >>
  • Teach for America-Alabama to welcome new Hale Co. members

    Teach for America-Alabama to welcome new Hale Co. members

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:32 AM EDT2014-09-16 12:32:10 GMT
    Today, Teach for America-Alabama will welcome new corps members who are teaching in Hale County this year.More >>
    Today, Teach for America-Alabama will welcome new corps members who are teaching in Hale County this year.More >>
  • No 3. Alabama hoping to spread ball vs Florida

    No 3. Alabama hoping to spread ball vs Florida

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:49 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:49:49 GMT
    Alabama is hoping to start spreading the ball around more offensively. Quarterback Blake Sims and the third-ranked Crimson Tide have been mostly throwing to Amari Cooper going into Saturday's SEC opener versus Florida.More >>
    Alabama is hoping to start spreading the ball around more offensively. Quarterback Blake Sims and the third-ranked Crimson Tide have been mostly throwing to Amari Cooper going into Saturday's SEC opener versus Florida.More >>
  • Auburn tailbacks keep ground game strong

    Auburn tailbacks keep ground game strong

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:44 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:44:38 GMT
    Cameron Artis-Payne is part of Auburn's 1-2 punch in the running game (abc3340.com)Cameron Artis-Payne is part of Auburn's 1-2 punch in the running game (abc3340.com)
    Cameron Artis-Payne wanted to prove he has speed this season and Corey Grant aimed to show his power. The two tailbacks for No. 5 Auburn so far have complemented each other nicely and helped the Tigers' running game remain one of the nation's best despite losing Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason.More >>
    Cameron Artis-Payne wanted to prove he has speed this season and Corey Grant aimed to show his power. The two tailbacks for No. 5 Auburn so far have complemented each other nicely and helped the Tigers' running game remain one of the nation's best despite losing Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason.More >>
  • Town Hall meeting on police and minority relations

    Town Hall meeting on police and minority relations

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:35 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:35:18 GMT
    In light of the events in Ferguson, Missouri community and police leaders will be participating in a town hall meeting.A number of people will be there from law enforcement to UAB professors. They will be discussing police and minority relations.More >>
    In light of the events in Ferguson, Missouri community and police leaders will be participating in a town hall meeting.A number of people will be there from law enforcement to UAB professors. They will be discussing police and minority relations.More >>
  • Coach: Referees put football team in danger by letting game continue under lightning

    Coach: Referees put football team in danger by letting game continue under lightning

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:29 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:29:32 GMT
    Safety on the football field is about more than just concussions. One team says it may have been put in danger by lighting. The defensive coordinator even says he saw lighting strike the field and the referees were no help.More >>
    Safety on the football field is about more than just concussions. One team says it may have been put in danger by lighting. The defensive coordinator even says he saw lighting strike the field and the referees were no help.More >>
  • Northern California wildfire burns 100 homes

    Northern California wildfire burns 100 homes

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 3:51 AM EDT2014-09-16 07:51:38 GMT
    Two raging wildfires in California forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes, including one near a lakeside resort town that burned nearly two dozen structures.More >>
    A fire driven by fierce winds raced through a small town near the Oregon border on Monday, burning a church to the ground, damaging or destroying 100 homes and prompting evacuation orders for at least 1,500 people,...More >>
  • Anniston appoints new school board member; discusses school consolidation

    Anniston appoints new school board member; discusses school consolidation

    Monday, September 15 2014 9:13 PM EDT2014-09-16 01:13:45 GMT
    The Anniston City Council named a former mayor of Weaver as the city's newest board of education member. Ed Kimbrough will replace Donna Ross, who submitted a letter of resignation two weeks ago as she and her family move out of state. Kimbrough was one of three candidates interviewed by the council for the position, along with former Macon County board of education member Ernest Washington, and Andrew Hatley, who previously served on both the Anniston City Council and Board of Education.More >>
    The Anniston City Council named a former mayor of Weaver as the city's newest board of education member. Ed Kimbrough will replace Donna Ross, who submitted a letter of resignation two weeks ago as she and her family move out of state. Kimbrough was one of three candidates interviewed by the council for the position, along with former Macon County board of education member Ernest Washington, and Andrew Hatley, who previously served on both the Anniston City Council and Board of Education.More >>