Nightly News   |  March 05, 2014

‘Mom’s Trying to Kill Us’: Strangers Save Kids from Drowning

A mother who drove straight into Florida’s surf with her three children in tow is alive today – and so are her children – thanks to the quick thinking of bystanders.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> there was a surreal event this week in daytona beach , florida, where people watching could not believe what was unfolding in the water in front of them. and once they didnetermined it aways not a stunt of any kind. once they determined a family was in danger and a mini van went into the surf, complete strangers went in to help, and we're happy to report everybody is okay.

>> reporter: this is the heart-stopping scene along daytona beach where a mother driving on the sand turned her mini van into the ocean , witnesses say, and drove it directly into the waves. with three children screaming it was a tragedy in the making until a handful of strangers put their own lives on the line, sprinting into the water and hearing the voice of a little boy inside.

>> the little boy said please help us, our mom is trying to kill us. all i could think about, we're getting the kids out no matter what.

>> reporter: this is a north carolina truck driver and former firefighter who was vacationing with his own family. by his side, another good samaritan seen here fighting the currents as he carries the 9 and 10-year-old to shore. they tell us a toddler is still trapped inside.

>> god almighty , there is a baby in the car.

>> reporter: with the honda now half under the water and pulled into the atlantic the men fight the force of the water, to pry open the door and unbuckle the 3-year-old from the car seat and carry the child to safety. donna pratt and taylor quinton, vacationing from vermont, say they're really inspired by the people.

>> it was so brave for them to do that. after that we went over and thanked them.

>> reporter: tonight, the pregnant mother from south carolina is having a mental health evaluation, police were at her house two hours before the incident, alerted by family but had no reason to stop her.

>> she had the right answers and was headed for an abuse shelter. so at that time they could not do anything with her.

>> reporter: tonight, the investigation continues and the children are safe, thanks to the selfless courage of strangers who rushed into the surf. janet shamlian , nbc news.