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S.C. mother charged for driving into ocean

ORLANDO, Fla. — After she drove her minivan into the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, authorities say a pregnant South Carolina woman tried to call off bystanders hustling to rescue her three screaming children from the water that was rushing in through the windows.

Ebony Wilkerson, who was charged with attempted murder Friday, said ‘‘everyone was OK’’ and left the van with her children inside, an affidavit said. The bystanders and beach safety officers, paying no mind to her urgings, pulled the two girls and a boy, ages 3, 9, and 10, through the windows Tuesday on Daytona Beach.

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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 a charging affidavit. ‘‘Mom is crazy.’’

Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said Wilkerson, 32, has been charged with three counts each of first-degree attempted murder and child abuse. She was in the custody of the sheriff’s office after being hospitalized for a mental evaluation.

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