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Saturday, July 26, 2014, 12:30 p.m.
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Mom accused of driving into surf goes before judge

By The Associated Press

This article was published March 8, 2014 at 9:49 a.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. — A pregnant South Carolina woman pointed to the ocean, locked the doors and rolled up the windows, telling her three children she was "trying to take them to a better place" as she drove her minivan into the surf, authorities said.

Ebony Wilkerson even tried to call off bystanders hustling to rescue her screaming children from the water, saying "everyone was OK" as she left the van in the ocean, an affidavit said. Wilkerson, 32, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts child abuse causing great bodily harm.

Volusia County Court Judge Shirley Green found probable cause for the charges during Wilkerson's first appearance in court Saturday and set her bond at $1.2 million. A date for an arraignment was not released.

The bystanders and beach safety officers, paying no attention to the mother, pulled the two girls and a boy, ages 3, 9 and 10, through the windows to safety 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 Wilkerson, of North Charleston, was in the custody of the sheriff's office after being hospitalized for a mental evaluation.

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