Florida sheriff’s deputy accidentally drives SUV over sunbather, 23, lying on her back at popular beach

Robin Diffenderfer suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to hospital, authorities said

Johanna Chisholm
Tuesday 10 May 2022 13:41 BST
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A 23-year-old sunbather was struck by a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy while he made a right turn from his parked position on beach patrol at St. Pete Beach, Florida, just west of St. Petersburg
A 23-year-old sunbather was struck by a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy while he made a right turn from his parked position on beach patrol at St. Pete Beach, Florida, just west of St. Petersburg (Youtube/Fox News 13)

A 23-year-old Florida woman’s beach day took an unimaginable turn last week when she was struck by a local sheriff deputy’s SUV while she lay on her back in the sand.

The alarming incident unfolded on 4 May when Deputy Todd Brien with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was driving a marked Cheverolet Tahoe while conducting a patrol at St. Pete Beach in Tampa, officials said.

A press release from the sheriff’s office describes how the officer was chatting with pedestrians just after 1pm when he received a 911 dispatch at a separate location.

While making a right turn from his parked position on the beach, the front right side of the deputy’s Tahoe reportedly drove over the “right side and mid to upper back area” of the young sunbather, Robin Diffenderfer.

“Diffenderfer sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to the hospital,” the sheriff’s office said.

The scene at a Florida beach as deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office tend to a 23-year-old sunbather who was struck by a deputy’s SUV in May. (Youtube/Fox News 13)

The 58-year-old deputy was not injured and an investigation into the incident has been opened by deputies assigned to the Major Accident Investigation Team, the office said.

The Independent reached out to Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office for comment on the ongoing investigation but did not hear back in time for publication.

This isn’t the first time that police vehicles have been involved in incidents where beachgoers were unintentionally run over.

In 2003, two French tourists were struck by a police SUV in Miami, with one of the victims dying as a result of her injuries while her sister suffered injuries at the time that required hospitalisation, The New York Times reported.

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