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WJBD - National News - Mom Accused of Driving Children into Ocean Has Bond Set at $1.2M

Mom Accused of Driving Children into Ocean Has Bond Set at $1.2M

Volusia County Corrections

(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- A pregnant mother who was charged with attempted murder after driving a minivan filled with her three children into the Atlantic Ocean had her bond set at $1.2 million.

At a court hearing on Saturday, prosecutors said that Ebony Wilkerson, 32, had a high flight risk and was a danger to the community, herself and her unborn child. Volusia County Court Judge Shirley Green set Wilkerson's bond at $300,000 for each attempted murder charge and $100,000 on each count of bodily harm.

Wilkerson did not enter a plea and a date for an arraignment was not released.

Police charged Wilkerson with attempted murder on Friday after the children told police, "Mom tried to kill us."

Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said Wilkerson got out of the car after driving it into the ocean in Dayton Beach, Fla., Tuesday and left her kids inside. Police said a beach safety officer had to fend her off as he was trying to rescue the children -- ages 3, 9, and 10.

"She tried to stop someone from going into the vehicle. That's one of the reasons you have a premeditated first degree murder," Johnson said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Wilkerson, who was also charged with three counts of child abuse, is 27-and-a-half weeks pregnant, Johnson said.

After being taken to the hospital, the children told police, "Mom tried to kill us," according to police. The oldest told officers that her mother brought them to the beach "so we could die" and that she was taking them to a "safer place." The oldest child tried to steer the car out of the surf, but his mother drove into the water.

"Ebony Wilkerson acted with premeditated design to kill her three children," investigators concluded in the charging affidavit.

Family members of Wilkerson, who is from Cross, S.C., had called police earlier in the day out of concern for the woman, but she told police she was going to a domestic abuse center with the children, police said earlier in the week.

Instead, she drove her Honda Odyssey minivan to Daytona Beach, where she rolled up the windows, told her children to go to sleep, and headed for the ocean, according to police. Bystanders who witnessed her gunning for the surf ran toward the minivan and tried to stop the woman.

"[My girlfriend] said what I thought was a joke and [I] was like, 'No, this is real', because after that her son came out the window, probably about waist high, screaming for help," Stacy Robinson, one of the men who rushed up to the van, told ABC News earlier this week.

Robinson, 21, said he jumped out of his car and ran over to the minivan and started walking beside the vehicle, talking to the mother.

Robinson said he then ran into the pounding waves after the minivan, which started to sink. The mother, he said, had rolled up the car windows and locked the doors as the vehicle was rocked by waves and pulled deeper into the water.

The three kids were screaming for help at the time, witnesses recalled.

Robinson said one of the back windows was still cracked open and he was able to reach in and open the door.

Other bystanders and lifeguards arrived and helped rescue the children from the sinking car.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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