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.