Posted: 3:54 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Woman who drove van into ocean made no attempt to save children, authorities say

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —

Authorities have not yet decided whether charges will be fired against a woman who drove a minivan with her children inside into the ocean in Daytona Beach on Tuesday.

Bystanders and officers helped pull the pregnant woman, identified as Ebony Wilkerson, and her children -- ages 3, 9 and 10 -- from their minivan after it became nearly submerged in the Atlantic surf Tuesday afternoon.

Beach safety officers said the minivan, which had a South Carolina tag, was being driven recklessly southbound on the beach when it suddenly turned eastward into the ocean.

When lifeguards and rescue teams arrived, they said Wilkerson gave no indication that there were children in the van. 

During a news conference Wednesday, authorities said Wilkerson was already out of the van when lifeguards got to her and that she did not tell them there were children inside the car.

Authorities said Wilkerson did not tell them she was pregnant and also made no attempt to save the children.

In video taken by Canadian tourist Simon Besner, the woman can be seen outside the van as lifeguards try to pull her children from the vehicle.

Waves nearly pushed her under the van.

"It was a bit terrifying," said Besner.

One lifeguard is seen walking out of the surf with two children in his arms.

With the front of the van nearly submerged, another lifeguard climbed out of the back of the van with a third child.

Investigators said Wilkerson was incoherent when they tried to speak with her.

The family was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said the children were turned over to the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families.           

The Sheriff's Office said it has not yet decided whether charges would be filed.

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