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Minivan Mom Case

Family Thanks 'Brave Men' Who Rescued Mom, Kids From Ocean

The family of the pregnant woman who drove a minivan into the Atlantic Ocean — with her three kids inside — thanked "the brave men" Thursday who ran into the chilly Florida surf and saved all four of them.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, of Cross, S.C., was still undergoing a mental health evaluation Thursday in Volusia County, Fla., where she told concerned passersby that she was fine just moments before she plunged the van into the ocean Tuesday off Daytona Beach.

Investigators wouldn't comment on possible charges Thursday.

Wilkerson's sister, Jessica Harrell of Daytona Beach — who called 911 hours before the incident Tuesday to ask police to check up on her sister — said Thursday in a statement that Wilkerson moved to Volusia County recently to "get away from a domestic violence situation."

Daytona Beach police intercepted Wilkerson a couple of hours before the incident, but they said she was lucid and that they had no grounds to detain her.

Harrell mentioned "at least two incidents" that had been recently reported to authorities police in Myrtle Beach and North Charleston, S.C., which "gave rise to her seeking family support here in Daytona Beach."

The statement gave no details of the incidents, which couldn't immediately be verified. It said Wilkerson was receiving care for "multiple health issues."

The statement said the family would have no further comment except to thank "the brave men who risked their lives to save the mother and the children, as well as those in the community, who have offered their help during this difficult time."

"They are asking for your prayers as they sort out the issues involved in this matter," the family said.

It's notable that Florida court records show that Wilkerson has been cited numerous times for traffic violations, including a 2007 accident in which she pulled in front of an approaching vehicle in Delray Beach.

The driver of that vehicle was killed; Wilkerson, who was convicted of an improper lane change, was sentenced to community service and lost her driver's license for a year.

IMAGE: Florida ocean rescue
Rescuers plunge into the Atlantic Ocean off Daytona Beach, Fla., on Tuesday to save three children in a van that was driven into the surf by their mother. NBC News