Lifeguard rushing to help the mother and children in a minivan in Daytona Beach.
Lifeguard rushing to help the mother and children in a minivan in Daytona Beach.Simon Besner

Florida authorities have not yet decided whether to charge a pregnant woman who drove a minivan into the ocean with her three small children inthe back.

Onlookers rushed to help Ebony Wilkerson, 31, and her children in their minivan as it was nearly submerged by the waves at Daytona Beach.

Her children, aged three, nine and 10, were heard screaming "our mommy's trying to kill us".

Tim Tesseneer told WESH News, he was one of the first to reach the minivan.

"The two in the back seat was crying, with their arms out saying 'Our mommy's trying to kill us, please help'," he said.

"She had this look on her face. I can't describe it. It was just an awful blank look, like spaced out look."

Dramatic footage, taken by Canadian tourist Simon Besner, shows lifeguards rushing to the scene and trying to tow the vehicle out of the water.

Investigators said she was already out of the car when the lifeguards arrived but was "incoherent" and did not tell anyone her children were in the van.

They were all taken to the hospital and the mother is now undergoing a mental health examination while the investigation continues.

Wilkerson's sister told police she was "acting odd" before the incident but that that there was no indication the children would be harmed.

"She's talking about Jesus, that there's demons in the house," her sister said.

It is understood the children have been handed over to the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families.