2nd Person Run Over by Lifeguards in One Month – Training to be Reviewed

by on July 31, 2011 · 6 comments

in San Diego

By Debbi Baker / SignOnSanDiego / July 29, 2011

State lifeguard officials are reviewing training policies after one of their trucks ran over a Poway woman this week at Torrey Pines State Beach.

It was the second time in a month that a lifeguard truck ran over someone at a local beach. The earlier incident occurred June 30 at Pacific Beach and involved a 3-year-old girl whose collarbone was broken. San Diego police are investigating both accidents.

Linda McGiness-Pleines, who was struck Tuesday afternoon, underwent surgery Friday at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla and was in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The woman was lying face down on the beach near Lifeguard Tower No. 3 when she felt the front passenger tire of the truck roll over her head and neck, according to an interview McGiness-Pleines gave to 10News, the Union-Tribune’s media partner. She said she suffered a broken jaw, three broken ribs, a shoulder injury and a possible injury to her spinal cord and neck.

McGiness-Pleines said she thought she was going to die when the truck ran over her.

Richard Dennison, public safety coordinator for the San Diego Coast District, which manages the Torrey Pines beach, said there appeared to be some kind of miscommunication between the two state lifeguards in the truck.

Supervisors are reviewing training policies and have gone over the procedures again with all of their lifeguards, Dennison said.

The state has a 10-page beach-driving policy, and lifeguards train yearly on how to properly negotiate the shoreline, he said.

San Diego police are investigating this week’s accident and the one in June where a San Diego lifeguard truck struck the 3-year-old.

Nicole Blakely said her daughter, Sasha, was hurt when the truck’s front and back tire ran over the girl’s leg and neck.

Sasha and her 5-year-old brother Kai were at the beach with their father, Tim Seeley. The girl was sitting on three towels by a backpack, while her father was about 20 feet away at the water’s edge with Kai, Blakely said. The father saw the truck and yelled for the driver to stop, Blakely said.

She said Seeley saw the truck run over his daughter and he rushed to her side. He picked up the screaming child and held her before she was taken to the hospital.

At the time, police and fire officials reported the girl’s injuries as minor.

Blakely said she and her family have great respect for lifeguards and know many of them as friends, but she wants assurances that city policies and safety measures were followed by the lifeguard who struck her daughter.

 “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,” Blakely said in an email to the Union-Tribune.

 She said she does not know if the lifeguard involved was disciplined or was provided additional training. A San Diego police spokeswoman said no charges were filed against the lifeguard.

Maurice Luque, spokesman for San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said he could not comment on the accident because of possible litigation. Blakely said she has hired an attorney but has not yet decided whether to sue.

Luque said it is very rare for someone to be run over by a lifeguard truck and that safety is always of the highest priority.

In August 2006, a woman was hit by a Coronado lifeguard truck while on the beach near the Hotel del Coronado. She suffered injuries to her pelvis, legs and ankles and was hospitalized for two days. The woman sued the city and Coronado settled with her for $141,000.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Wil B Hardigan July 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Get your damn trucks off the sand! Unless there’s an emergency a mile down the beach, you shouldn’t be driving those trucks through there without your sirens & lights on. You have towers and binoculars, no need to “cruise” around running over people while staring at the chick in the bikini across the way.

I can’t imagine worrying about a truck running over my head while laying on the beach. WTH?


avatar OB Dude July 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Trucks/cars for the road…..if there is a grave emergency then those lovely helicopters tootling around OB can spring into action :-)

If people want lifeguard assistance/observation they should be within view of the lifeguard station. No need for lifeguards to be crusin’ like Wil stated above and not paying attention because of eye candy, texting, or whatever. These vehicles are an expense and soon to be plastered with advertising if some get their way.



avatar john July 31, 2011 at 9:32 pm

As horrifying of a scenario as this conjures up in my mind for the victims, I can only imagine the lifeguards involved feel just terrible about these unfortunate incidents. We shouldn’t just assume willful negligence. While it’s easy to think of Baywatch, blue skies and tranquil waves, this can be very dangerous work and anyone with the slightest bit of water lifesaving knows these guys have to go in the water every time knowing the person they are trying to save is a risk to panic and kill the both of them if conditions are right.
In summary they are professionals and put their lives on the line for not a whole lot of money, they should get the benefit of doubt until we hear otherwise.
As for the trucks, budget cuts demand a lot of miles of coast covered by less personnel. If you have a better way…..
Some perspective I believe I first saw linked to here at the Rag:


(off topic- I can’t help but think the comment by the guy who regrets the lost war contributions of the victims is a sign of the times we needn’t miss- too bad they didn’t get to kill some huns before they died? you’re all heart bub!)


avatar Citizen Cane August 1, 2011 at 12:14 am

Maybe we need a vehicle with better visibility, like the ASAP Life Guard.


avatar Michele August 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

HeadNorth provides help for individuals with a spinal cord injury. Lifeguard services can’t give out info on Linda, but if anyone knows her, she may contact HeadNorth to request financial assistance with medical co-payments, etc. Our office phone is 858-350-5199 and website is http://www.headnorth.org.


avatar Kimberly August 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm

They really should just have four wheelers on the beach only. Something with an open view so that there would be no possibility of hitting or running over anyone. You don’t need a huge F150 truck to patrol a POPULATED BEACH!!!!


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