SC pregnant mom deliberately drove van with children into ocean, - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

SC pregnant mom deliberately drove van with children into ocean, deputies say

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL -

Rescuers helped pull members of a South Carolina family from their minivan after it became submerged in the Atlantic surf on Florida's Daytona Beach.

The pregnant mother and her children - ages 3, 9, and 10 - ended up in the water in the Honda minivan just before 5 p.m. Tuesday.

WBTW-TV has learned the 31-year-old woman is from Cross, SC, in northwestern Berkeley County. However, since she has not been charged WBTW has chosen not to release her name.

In an update Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Ben Johnson with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said the woman deliberately drove into the water, according to News 13 in Orlando.

Beach Safety Capt. Tammy Marris says the woman was driving where cars were allowed and the vehicle went into the water just north of the Silver Beach approach in Daytona Beach.

Less than 2 hours earlier on Tuesday, Johnson said that Daytona Beach Police actually contacted the woman after they got a call from a concerned family member.

Because the woman did not display any immediate issues on Tuesday, authorities were unable to take her into custody.

In a Daytona Beach Police report obtained by WBTW, the woman told police that she "was in fear for her safety and that of her children" because "her ex-husband was going to find them in Florida and come harm them."

She also told police when they talked to her at 3:14 pm that she was driving to a "safe location" that she had coordinated with a domestic violence shelter and she did not want to share that location with anyone -- including family members.

However, police said that "it was clear" she was suffering from some form of mental illness "but she was lucid and did not provide signs that she met Baker Act requirements," police said in the report.

Police then talked to the woman's sister who said she was "concerned because her sister had been talking about demons and seemed 'off,' " police said in the report.

Police noted in the report that the children in the minivan "were smiling and showed no signs of distress."

On Wednesday afternoon, Child Protective Services was interviewing the children to learn what happened.

The sheriff said the woman, who has not been identified, will undergo a mental health evaluation.

At this time no charges have been filed.

Tim Tesseneer, of Rutherfordton, NC was one of the first men to first reach the minivan. Tesseneer told a TV reporter that one of the children inside was screaming that their mom was trying to kill them.

Video aired by local TV stations showed rescuers who ran to the scene hurriedly trying to get everyone out of the van as it drifted in the water. The family was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center for treatment. Their vehicle was towed. Everyone is expected to be alright.

The mother was reportedly incoherent when investigators tried to speak with her. The mother has apparently been admitted to a local hospital for a mental health examination.  Her name has not been released. 

The Associated Press contributed to this article.
 

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