Three children — all 10 years old and younger — were rescued from the Atlantic Ocean Tuesday after their mother drove her minivan into the surf and it began to drift into deeper waters.
Beach Safety Capt. Tammy Marris said told WKMG-TV the woman was driving on an area of Daytona Beach where vehicles are allowed. Then, she turned to the water.
“My friend pointed out that there was a car getting really close to the beach and actually started driving on the water,” Taylor Quintin, a tourist from Vermont, told the news station. “I saw a kid in the back waving his arms around screaming, ‘Help us! Help us!’ And the car kept going deeper.”
“That’s when I saw a guy from the beach run over next to the car and take out two small children and walk them back up,” Quintin said.
Witness Simon Besner from Montreal captured the incident on camera. See some of the footage in WKMG’s report:
Tim Tesseneer of Rutherfordton, N.C., was one of the men who rushed to help the children. He told WEST-TV the children in the back said, “Our mommy’s trying to kill us, please help.”
The incident is still under investigation by Volusia County Beach Patrol and the Florida Department of Children & Families.
“When she first was drifting into the ocean, we thought maybe an accident,” Donna Pratt told WKMG. “But when the bystanders went to help, she clearly went deeper into the ocean. She drove right toward it, so it’s hard to believe it was an accident.”
Investigators said the mother was incoherent when questioned, WFTV-TV reported. According to WESH, the mother of three is also pregnant.
“She had this look on her face,” Tesseneer told the news station. “I can’t describe it. It was just an awful blank look, like spaced-out look.”
The four involved were taken to a local hospital where they were treated for minor injuries. The mother was not identified, but WKMG reported that the family was visiting from South Carolina.