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Treatment for mom accused of driving kids in ocean

March 25, 2014

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (AP) — A pregnant woman charged with attempted murder after she drove her car into the ocean with her three children inside will be allowed to receive in-hospital psychiatric care until a doctor says she’s fit to return to jail, according to an agreement announced Tuesday.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, earlier this month drove her minivan into the surf off Daytona Beach, Florida, and bystanders and officers helped pull her and her children — ages 3, 9 and 10 — from inside as it was almost submerged. According to a charging affidavit, one of her children told detectives that “Mom tried to kill us.”

Wilkerson’s hospital treatment started about two weeks ago and includes group therapy sessions, said her public defender Jim Purdy said. She had been in isolation, but now will be allowed the recreational exercise time.

Wilkerson has 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. The children also told authorities they went to Florida to try to escape their father and described a history of violence between their parents.

A beach safety officer who helped rescue the family reported Wilkerson looked fatigued and her speech was confusing when he interviewed her in the hospital where she had been taken.

Her public defender Jim Purdy said that Wilkerson is about seven months pregnant and that she will also receive prenatal care because she is a “high-risk pregnancy.”

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