A pregnant woman has driven a car full of children into the ocean at a US beach, leaving horrified witnesses scrambling to help save them.

Rescuers helped pull members of a South Carolina family from their minivan after it became submerged in the Atlantic surf on Florida's Daytona Beach.

Family rescued from van submerged in Florida ocean

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the woman and her children — ages 3, 9, and 10 — somehow ended up in the water around 5pm Tuesday.

Beach Safety Captain Tammy Marris says the woman was already driving on the beach, where cars are allowed. It's not clear how the vehicle ended up in the water.

Witnesses described to local TV networks the dramatic scenes that unfolded on the popular beach.

“My friend pointed out that there was a car getting really close to the beach, and actually started driving on the water. I saw a kid in the back, like waving his arms around, like screaming, ‘Help us! Help us!’ and the car kept going deeper,” one witness told CBS News.

“She was pretty deep, and the water was moving the van, and the kids were screaming. He got the two kids out while she dove out the window, the driver’s window ... just belly-flopped into the water,” said Tim Tesseneer, who was among the first to reach the car.

“The kids are screaming, ‘There’s a baby, there’s a baby’...I get back to the van, and by this time a couple of lifeguards have made it down there to us, and come to find out there’s a baby still strapped in the seat, but we got her.”

Video aired by the local TV stations showed how the rescuers ran to the scene hurriedly, trying to get everyone out of the van as it drifted in the water. The family was taken to Halifax Health Medical Centre for treatment. Their vehicle was towed.

Marris says authorities are investigating.


  • Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or follow @LifelineAust @OntheLineAus @kidshelp @beyondblue @headspace_aus @ReachOut_AUS on Twitter.

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