32-year-old Ebony Wilkerson of South Carolina was released from a hospital Friday morning and into police custody.
She was booked on three counts each of attempted first degree murder and aggravated child abuse; for driving a minivan carrying her children into the surf off Daytona Beach.
"You're supposed to protect your children at all costs. You're not supposed to try to kill your children," said the Volusia County Sheriff.
Horrified bystanders ran into the water to help after hearing the children scream.
"Are they saying help? If they're saying help, that's different!" said one bystander.
The children, ages three, nine, and 10 were not physically hurt.
Authorities say they told police their mother was trying to kill them.
"Originally she had the windows up and the doors locked," said the Sheriff. "She actually told them to close their eyes and go to sleep and she was taking them to a better place."
Hours earlier, Wilkerson's sister called 9-1-1 saying Wilkerson was acting strangely.
But police found no reason to take her into custody.
"She showed nothing, no display, that she was a danger to herself or anyone at that time," the Sheriff said.
Police also say she now denies trying to harm her kids.
The kids are currently in Florida state custody.
The father has been contacted but he has not shown up yet.
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