ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – One of two teenagers who were run over while sunbathing on Atlantic Beach last month vividly recalled the ordeal in an interview Thursday with News4Jax.
Police said Atlantic Beach Public Works employee Timothy Thompson was fixing a trash bin just before 10 a.m. May 7 near the 20th Street access when he made a U-turn on the beach in his pickup truck and accidentally ran over two 13-year-old girls.
The families of Isabella Rodriguez and Jade Shaw said they plan to sue the city.
Both girls had to go to the hospital and are still bandaged up. They said they were just lying in the sand when the pickup truck rolled on top of them.
“We were just lying down,” Isabella said. “I think I might have heard it or something because I jumped up really fast.”
But it wasn't enough to get out of the way of the truck. Both girls were pinned beneath it.
“I was screaming, and so was Jade, for somebody to hurry up and help us,” Isabella said.
She said she pounded on the side of the truck to get the driver's attention.
“A guy walking his dog came and dug the sand out underneath my foot to get it out,” Isabella said.
She suffered multiple fractures, torn ligaments and soft tissue damage to her foot. She said she's in a lot of pain.
Jade, who still has bandages on her arms, hands and back, suffered third-degree burns from the heat of the truck. She spent nine days in the burn unit at UF Health Shands in Gainesville and underwent two surgeries.
Thompson pleaded not guilty to failure to use due care toward a pedestrian, a civil traffic citation. The fine is $164. Thompson is scheduled to go to trial on the charge at 9 a.m. June 23. He is still employed by Atlantic Beach, a city spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.
Both girls' families said they plan to sue the city of Atlantic Beach over what happened to make sure it doesn't happen again.
“If that's what it takes, then so be it. It shouldn't take that,” said John Phillips, Isabella's attorney.
Phillips has won other cases in which Florida beachgoers were run over by city vehicles. He said Thompson and the city should have been more careful.
“He may say it is an accident. I don't like to use the word 'accident,' because this wasn't just happenstance,” Phillips said. “If you're operating recklessly, if you were doing things we shouldn't, then it is not just pure accident.”
“If my head was toward the ocean, it would have been my head that was stuck under the tire. Or if he turned the wheel more, it would have gone over my stomach,” Isabella said. “If he did anything differently, it would have been a lot worse.”
She said the beach is not a place where she can relax now.
“It will take some time to get used to it again,” Isabella said.
Thompson, who called 911 to report the incident, told News4Jax on Thursday that his attorney has advised him not to say anything about it.
A spokeswoman for Atlantic Beach also said the city cannot comment because of the pending litigation.