ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Rescuers pulled three children from a minivan tossing in the surf at a Florida beach on the Atlantic Ocean, and investigators were trying on Wednesday to determine how the vehicle driven by their pregnant mother ended up in the water.
A videotape of the rescue recorded by a Canadian tourist and aired by television stations showed lifeguards and bystanders at Daytona Beach frantically pulling the children, ages 3, 9 and 10, out of the van as it bobbed in the waves on Tuesday.
"The two in the back seat (were) crying, with their arms out, saying, ‘Our mommy's trying to kill us. Please help,'" one of the rescuers, Tim Tesseneer, told WESH, the NBC affiliate in Orlando.
An official police account of what happened was not immediately available. A spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, which is handling the investigation, said more information would be released on Wednesday afternoon.
The tourist's video showed waves cresting over the van as rescuers struggled against window-high water to open its doors and raise the lift gate at the rear to reach the children. The surf lifted and turned the van parallel to the shore, nearly capsizing it.
The mother, who was standing outside the van when the videotape began rolling, was almost pushed under the vehicle by waves, according to WFTV-TV, which also broadcast the footage.
"It was a bit terrifying," Simon Besner, the tourist who recorded the rescue, told WFTV.
WESH reported the woman was pregnant and identified her as being from South Carolina. The children were released from a hospital after being examined.
Reporting by Barbara Liston; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Gunna Dickson