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Patrol vehicle runs over 2 women on Florida beach; sergeant cited for careless driving

Dangers of beach driving
Beach driving posing a danger on the sand 02:01

A sergeant could face disciplinary action after striking two young women with a patrol car at Daytona Beach on Memorial Day, officials said. The sergeant, whose name has not been released, already received a citation for careless driving in the wake of the incident.

Both 18 years old, the women were sunbathing on the sand near Daytona's strip of coastal hotels on Monday afternoon when the patrol car ran them over, said Tamra Malphurs, the interim director of Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue, in a statement. The sergeant is employed by that safety agency. Malphurs characterized the collision as an accident. It happened at around 2:30 p.m. local time.

The women, who had traveled to Daytona Beach from Kissimmee, were transported to a hospital after being hit by the sergeant's vehicle. Details about the nature of their injuries were not immediately available although Malphurs said each of their conditions was stable as of Wednesday morning.

In addition to the reckless driving citation, Malphurs said the sergeant may be disciplined further once Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue has "reviewed all the facts." The Volusia County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident.

Sunbathers have been hit by government-operated or publicly-owned vehicles — including some driven by lifeguards, police and other public safety officers — at major tourist beaches before, in Florida and elsewhere in the United States. The Florida-based personal injury law firm McQuaid & Douglas said it has become a problematic pattern in various parts of the state that appears to be happening more frequently now than ever, with at least 20 accounts of beach patrol cars running over sunbathers in recent years, according to the firm. Three sunbathers were struck by police cruisers on Pinellas Beach, near St. Petersburg, along Florida's Gulf Coast, in the last two years alone, the attorneys said.

People enjoy warm temperatures during spring break at
People sunbathe at Daytona Beach in March 2023. Two women were struck and injured by a Daytona Beach safety patrol car while sunbathing on Monday, May 27, 2024. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The issue initially raised concerns about whether vehicles should drive on beaches at all in Volusia County in 2010, after two 4-year-old children were hit and killed. A handful of similar incidents drew national attention over the decade or so since, many of which happened in California. In 2019, a 30-year-old woman suffered minor or moderate injuries after being hit by a Los Angeles Police Department patrol cruiser on Venice Beach, CBS Los Angeles reported. Police were patrolling a sandy stretch of the beach in an SUV when they turned the car and ran over the woman, who was sunbathing.

Another woman suffered more severe injuries when a lifeguard, driving a Los Angeles County-owned vehicle, hit her on Venice Beach. At the time, CBS Los Angeles reported that the 25-year-old was hospitalized with fractures and internal injuries. Earlier that year, a sanitation truck ran over a woman who was lying face down in the sand on the same beach. That woman was 49 and hospitalized with serious injuries.

Also in 2013, city officials in San Francisco proposed a $15 million settlement for the family of Christine Svanemyr, a woman killed by a maintenance vehicle that ran her over while she was lying with her 11-month-old child in a park in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. The man who hit her, a San Francisco Parks employee, was charged with manslaughter in the hit-and-run, CBS San Francisco reported. Svanemyr's husband wrote in a Medium post several years later that the employee ultimately received community service as a penalty and spent four days in jail.

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