• 'I've been through a lot': Mom who drove van full of kids into ocean talks exclusively to WFTV

    By: Michael Springer


    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The South Carolina mother deputies said drove a van full of children into the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach in 2014 believes she will one day be reunited with her children.

    Ebony Wilkerson is in a residential treatment center in Volusia County. She opened up to WFTV Channel 9 about what happened as she gets ready to host a fashion show this weekend at the Daytona Beach Best Western. The event is for the Free Spirit Evangelistic Outreach Ministries to help raise awareness about mental health.

    Wilkerson has been a part of the court-ordered program for the past year and a half to help treat her bipolar disorder.


    “I’ve been through a lot,” Wilkerson said. “I have been a better person. For me to be able to step up and say, ‘I have a mental illness issue and I’m not afraid of that.’”

    Judge: Woman accused of driving kids into Atlantic Ocean no longer involuntary committed

    Wilkerson said she still remembers the day she drove her van with her three children inside. The children survived when strangers on the beach jumped into the water to rescue them.

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    “You still have the memories and you see what happened… So you’re looking back and saying, ‘Oh my goodness,’” Wilkerson said.

    Watch: Beach cam shows van plunging into ocean

    Wilkerson said she is now eating well, sleeping better, and regularly taking her medication through the program. She sees her children every other weekend.

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

    “It hurt them, and it hurt me as well, but at the end of the day I’m putting as much love in them as I can, nurturing for them so they don’t feel like they don’t have me there,” Wilkerson said.

    Wilkerson said she is intent on not letting mental illness define her. She’s now ready to take back control of her life and go down a healthier path, she said.

    “This is something that happens to people and you can live with this but you can’t allow it to control  you.”

    Wilkerson hopes if she continues to progress, the courts will allow to be reunited with her family in South Carolina.

    WATCH BELOW: Full interview with Ebony Wilkerson



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