A bystander’s video captured the dramatic rescue of three young South Carolina children who were strapped inside a minivan and driven into the rough waters of Daytona Beach Tuesday evening, allegedly by their mother.
Tim Tesseneer was one of two men to make a dash into the rough waters and pull the children, ages 10, 9 and 3, to safety.
A beach safety officer reported seeing a Honda Odyssey van with a South Carolina tag driving recklessly on the beach around 5 p.m., Gary Davidson, of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, said in a press release Wednesday.
“The vehicle drove south bound in the surf, parallel to the shore, before turning east and driving into approximately 3-4 feet of water,” Davidson said. “As additional beach safety officers arrived on scene, the van was floating and was almost completely submerged in the water.”
The stunning video shows the van quickly filling up with water while one of the rescuers carries two of the children to land.
"The kids are like, 'No, there's a baby. There's a baby,'" Tesseneer told HLN affiliate WESH.
According to witnesses, the mother appeared to be disoriented and walked away from the vehicle while her youngest child was still inside. The video then captures the two men frantically pulling the 3-year-old child from the hatchback of the car.
The child was strapped into the car seat, making the chance of survival low if there had not been a quick rescue, according to Dave Byron, spokesman for Volusia County, Florida.
“With the help of bystanders, beach safety officers were able to remove the occupants – two girls and a boy, including a toddler who was strapped into a booster seat – and take them on shore to safety,” police said in the press release.
At this time, the incident does not appear to be an accident, Byron told HLN.
"The two in the back seat was crying, with their arms out saying 'Our mommy's trying to kill us, please help,'" Tesseneer told WESH.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office says it is investigating the incident.
The mother was admitted to a local hospital for a mental health examination. Police say she will not speak to them.
Her children were also taken to the hospital and appear to be in good health, according to authorities.
The children have been turned over to the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families.