Mom reported sex assault in SC before driving van into ocean, police say

Woman who drove with kids into ocean undergoing mental evaluation

Published On: Mar 06 2014 06:58:08 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 07 2014 09:11:54 AM EST
van in ocean
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -

The pregnant mother who drove a van with her three children into the ocean off Daytona Beach reported her husband sexually assaulted her to South Carolina police about one week before the Wednesday incident.

[AUDIO: 911 call well-being check | VIDEO:  Woman drives minivan into ocean]

According to Myrtle Beach Police Department, 32-year-old Ebony Wilkerson told officers her husband sexually assaulted her while they were vacationing in Myrtle Beach. Her husband, who has not been identified, said that Wilkerson assaulted him, police told Local 6 on Thursday. No arrests were made in that incident.

Wilkerson was being evaluated on Thursday under the Baker Act, a law that allows authorities to involuntarily take people into custody if they seem to be a threat to themselves.

Authorities said Daytona Beach police spoke to Wilkerson hours before the Tuesday incident after a family member contacted them out of concern that Wilkerson was talking about "demons."

"I tried to take her to the hospital yesterday and she signed herself out today," Willkerson's sister said in the 911 call. "She is doing a little bit better, but she is still not all here. But she is trying to drive and I'm trying to stop her and she has her kids and I took her keys."

Wilkerson's sister also said that her sister was trying to escape an abusive ex and was acting strange.

According to a police report, Wilkerson said she was going to an abuse shelter and feared her ex-husband would find them in Florida and harm them. She also told police she was going to her "safe place."

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina said it had no reports of domestic violence calls in connection with Wilkerson at her home in Cross, S.C. Deputies also said there was no history or reports of abuse or neglect against her children.

Volusia County Beach Patrol said one of the lifeguards witnessed the van driving outside of the traffic lane near the Silver Beach approach at around 5 p.m. Tuesday before she accelerated into the ocean.

The three children -- ages 3, 9 and 10 -- were rescued by onlookers from the minivan, which was being buffeted by waves as it drifted deeper into the surf.

Wilkerson's sister's neighbor, Latoya Brannon, said she saw the family earlier on Tuesday and that Wilkerson was packing up the van and looked frustrated, but didn't consider her behavior out of the ordinary.

"Everything looked so normal," Brannon said. "It was three children. Two girls and a boy and I know they were packing and were in the car and they were about to get ready to go somewhere."

A child protection team interviewed the children, all of whom were placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.

It's not clear if Wilkerson will be charged.