Imagine relaxing on the sunny shores of Torrey Pines State Beach – only to be struck by an SUV to the back of the head. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what happened this month –not only once, but twice, including the second incident involving a 3-year-old toddler.

Now, state lifeguard officials will review training policies in an effort to curb other San Diego car accidents from happening again. But the beach community is understandably concerned on existing training policies: are they sufficient for stopping accidents from happening again?

Details of the car accident case

The last month has gone unfortunately sour for local lifeguards at the Torrey Pines State Beach after two reports of personal injury made headlines – one accident involving a toddler whose collarbone was broken, and another involving a woman whose head and neck got ran over.

A Poway woman was struck Tuesday afternoon, after a lifeguard’s SUV allegedly ran over the woman’s head and neck, according to reports at the San Diego Union Tribune. She was immediately transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital where she underwent surgery, leaving her in fair condition thereafter.

In addition to a possible spinal cord injury, the woman also suffered a “broken jaw, three broken ribs and a shoulder injury” according to reports. After her interview with 10News, an SDUT news affiliate, the woman said she “thought she was going to die” as the truck rolled over her head and neck.

The local beach community was understandably outraged – but the public safety coordinator at Torrey Pines beach said the accident happened as a result of miscommunication between the two lifeguards – an explanation that did not satisfy local residents, especially since this is the second SUV accident within the month.

As reports surfaced in July, a San Diego lifeguard struck another beachgoer – this time, a 3-year-old toddler. The mother to the injured child said that her daughter was struck by the truck’s front and back tire as it rolled across her leg and neck. Before the accident happened, the father of the child saw the truck approaching and yelled for the lifeguard to stop the SUV, according to the mother.

The child was immediately transported to the hospital shortly after the accident.

“We try to keep our children safe by insuring we watch them in the water and keep an eye on them on the beach so that strangers don’t approach them and they don’t get lost. We don’t expect an added danger on the beach to be getting run over,” the child’s mother said in an email to the Union-Tribune.

Beach safety: more than just water awareness

Many beachgoers expect to practice proper water safety basics: sunscreen, hydration, lifejackets, child supervision, obeying posted signs, and more. But most beachgoers do not expect that pedestrian safety is just as important – but as these reports indicate, pedestrian safety – even at the beach – is critical. What can you do to be a proactive beachgoer? Consider the following tips:

  • Nominate a responsible adult to supervise beach activities. Be sure to take turns so no one parent or guardian feels burned-out or tired. Keep a close eye for all activities around you and your group, including oncoming vehicles.
  • Use bright beach gear. A bright blanket can designate your space around you, and often deter vehicles from approaching your group too closely. Also, consider a large umbrella since a big object can often capture the right kind of attention for your group.
  • Stay close to the pack of people around you. As much as it is wonderful to have your own space at the beach, it may often prove safer if you find a good spot near other beachgoers. Since the sun can be bright, it may prevent lifeguards from missing you in the abyss of sand and sun. Stay closer to the majority of beachgoers to avoid potential accidents.

About the Law Offices of Michael Pines

Michael Pines, founder, is one of San Diego’s most trusted accident and injury prevention experts with running columns at the La Jolla Light, Del Mar Times, and Rancho Santa Fe Review. The law firm aims to educate the public utilizing safety tips and accident prevention advice, and has helped many injured people seek fair financial recovery after an accident occurs. If you have been injured in an accident, call the personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Pines at 1-858-551-2090 for a free and confidential legal review.

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