Pregnant mother of 3, undergo mental evaluation

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In the hours before a South Carolina pregnant woman drove her car into the surf at Silver Beach with her three children inside, her 28-year-old sister called 911 to possibly get her sister help, even Baker Acted if necessary.

"Her husband beat on her, so she came down to my house from South Carolina," said Jessica Harrell to a 911 dispatch operator for Daytona Beach Police.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, lives in Cross, South Carolina, according to police. She was with her three children who are 10, 9, and 3-years-old. Harrell said her sister was trying to get away from her allegedly abusive husband.

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"My sister was getting abused by her husband I tried to take her to the hospital yesterday. She signed herself out today. She's getting a little bit better but she's still not all here so she's trying to drive and I'm trying to stop her," said Harrell in the 911 call.

When the 911 operator told Harrell she didn't understand why she was asking for a wellness check, Harrell said she was concerned about Wilkerson's mental health.

"She's talking about Jesus, that there are demons in my house, that I'm trying to control her, but I'm trying to keep them safe," said Harrell during the call.

Wilkerson drove off and Daytona Beach Police Officers caught up with her.

"Daytona [police officers] found her, interviewed her, at that time there was nothing they could do at that time," said Sheriff Ben Johnson, Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Johnson said Wilkerson told the officers she was heading to a domestic violence shelter and did not want to tell anyone in case her ex-husband would find her. Officials say Wilkerson did not meet the requirements to be Baker Acted, which allows for the involuntary institutionalization and examination of an individual.

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Two hours later beach officers and good Samaritans including a North Carolina man on his first real family vacation rescued the family from the fully submerged minivan at Silver Beach.

"I don't want to think about what would have happened a lot could of happen and that water got a hold of that van and it just pulled it out," said Tim Tesseneer of Rutherfordton, North Carolina.

Volusia County officials say if 10 more minutes had gone by, the outcome would have been very different.

In the 911 call, Wilkerson's sister told police she was trying to get her into a domestic violence shelter but it was at full capacity. First Coast News reached out to the only domestic violence shelter in Volusia County and we were told they are at full capacity, but the shelter always make arrangements if someone is in danger. #YouFirst, if you run into a similar situation you need let the operator know that this is an emergency and you need help right away.

Wilkerson is undergoing a mental health evaluation and the children are under the custody of the state.


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