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Why Did A Woman Drive Her Kids Into The Ocean?

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1394346090ebony1By Andrew Scot Bolsinger

A 32-year-old mother of three has been charged with attempted second-degree murder and related child abuse charges for driving her children into the Atlantic Ocean.

Ebony Wilkerson of North Charleston, SC, had previously been charged on three counts of attempted first-degree murder and child abuse charges following the March 4 incident. According to the Daytona Beach-News, prosecutors refused to say why the charges were reduced.

Public Defender James Purdy said in a statement he plans to enter not guilty pleas at Wilkerson’s arraignment Thursday. He says he believes evidence will show Wilkerson never intended to harm the children — ages 3, 9 and 10 — or herself, according to a report in The Grio.

Wilkerson brought her children to Florida out of fear from her estranged husband. Her sister frantically tried to get her help concerned she was having mental issues that impaired her judgment, according to CNN.

The sister called 911 saying Wilkerson was “talking about Jesus and that there’s demons in my house. I’m trying to control her,” the sister said, expressing worry about her sister’s three children. “… I’m trying to keep them safe.”

Police caught up to Wilkerson after she sped away from her sister’s Daytona Beach apartment. An officer questioned her, reporting that “her three children sat in the Honda Odyssey’s backseat, smiling and seemingly calm,” CNN reported. Wilkerson explained that she feared for her safety, worried that her estranged husband would harm them.

According to a Daytona Beach Police report, the officer believed she might have a mental illness. Despite these concerns a detective also at the scene said she couldn’t be held under a Florida law that allows for detention of people believed to be impaired by mental illness.

Almost two hours later Tuesday, Wilkerson drove her into the ocean.

Beachgoers helped pull the screaming children and Wilkerson from the surf that day.

Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at