SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — A Santa Cruz woman charged with attempting to kill her children by crashing into the ocean at Sunny Cove told investigators she heard voices in her head.

New details about what happened at Sunny Cove beach on Sept. 17, 2021 were revealed in court documents obtained by KRON4 news this week. 

Elisa Chavez, 39, is locked in the Santa Cruz County Jail with no bail. District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell charged her with two counts of attempted murder with malice, two counts of felony child abuse, and assault. 

The victims were her 11-year-old twins. The heroes were surfers who pulled the children out of the car as it was sinking. 

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office concluded that, if surfers had not been nearby, no one in the car would have likely survived.

The cliffs next to Sunny Cove have underwater sea caves. (KRON4 photo)

Investigators have been tight-lipped about the case, however, an affidavit written by detectives and filed in court reveals a possible motive behind the shocking incident.

Sheriff’s Det. Ethan Rumrill interviewed Chavez in her Santa Clara Valley Medical Center hospital room. 

She told Rumrill that while she was at Sunny Cove beach with her sons, “she started to hear voices in her head,” according to court documents. 

The voices said, “her mother had died and was in heaven. The voices were telling her to drive off the cliff. If she did, she would fly … not fall, and be with her mother,” Rumrill wrote.

Chavez and her sons left the cove and got back into their car. Witnesses saw Chavez suddenly accelerate her car toward one of the cove’s cliffs, smash through a guardrail, and land in the ocean.

Moments later, one witness saw “surfers begin to paddle towards the vehicle to assist with extracting the children from the car as it was pummeled by waves and slowly becoming submerged. The children in the backseat could be heard screaming frantically for help and crying hysterically,” Sheriff’s Det. Ryan Farotte wrote. 

A new guardrail was built at the end of the road to replace an old rail destroyed in the crash. (KRON4 photo)

Chavez sat still and silent inside the car, doing nothing to help her children, Farotte wrote. 

“If it were not for the quick response of surfers, Chavez and her children may have likely not survived,” Farotte wrote.

When Chavez saw surfers paddling towards her, she closed her eyes.

“Elisa said the voices told her not to say anything to the surfers, and to keep her eyes closed, or else they would cut off her head and take her eyes out,” court documents state.

The detective asked Chavez to explain her motive for driving off the cliff.

“Elisa said she was trying to be with her mother and intended on killing herself. Elisa said she couldn’t explain how, but she believed her kids would not be harmed by her actions,” court documents state.  

Chavez had been placed on “5150’s,” involuntary psychiatric holds, twice in the past, according to the affidavit. She stopped taking medication a year ago when she lost her job and medical benefits. 

The twins were interviewed by Sheriff’s Det. Iniguez.

The boys said the morning of the crash started out like a normal day. They were eating breakfast when their mother asked if they wanted to go to the beach. While at the beach, the boys saw their mother fill a cup with ocean water, court documents state.

When they returned to their car, Chavez placed a purple angel inside the cup of ocean water, placed the cup on the car’s dashboard, and told her sons, “I’m praying for a miracle,” court documents state.

After the car landed in the ocean, “the boys described surfers helping them get safely to the beach. (The boys) said their mom did not say anything while they were stuck in the car,” Farotte wrote.

Paramedics transported the boys to a nearby hospital to be treated for back injuries.

Their mother spent several days in a hospital before she was booked into jail.

Chavez pleaded not guilty on Nov. 3. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22.