LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two beachgoers are recovering after, police say, they were hit by a beach patrol vehicle on Long Island.
Lifeguards and emergency medical technicians surrounded a 48-year-old man and his 36-year-old female companion lying in the sand Sunday evening in Long Beach after being struck by the vehicle.
It happened around 7:40 p.m., about an hour and a half after lifeguards left for the day. In a social media video, two witnesses explain what they saw.
“Somebody just got run over,” one person says.
“The beach patrol, Long Island beach patrol, ran over two people lying in the sand,” says the other.
At the time, the beach was still filled with crowds enjoying the dusk light hours on the shore while beach patrol officers monitored the water for people who were swimming without a lifeguard.
Residents say it’s common, especially during the busy summer months.
“They whistle you out — I’ve seen that — but I guess maybe he didn’t see them,” resident Susan Machemer told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris. “I don’t know. I really feel bad for both of them. I hope the people are OK.”
“I mean, if there is a vehicle, you’re going to have to zigzag in and out,” another resident told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “There’s not going to be an easy path.”
“As far as the police vehicles go, they should just slow down,” said beachgoer Justin Taroli. “It is their responsibility not to run over somebody.”
“Just very sad because they have the lanes for the vehicles to go by,” said Gina McCarthy, another beachgoer.
The officer behind the wheel of the SUV, David Walpole, may have been calling out to people on the jetty to come to shore when the vehicle collided with the beachgoers, who were lying down, Doris reported.
Witnesses explained the officer didn’t seem to realize what happened.
“He stood on top of them for a minute, then realized,” one witness said. “He was getting out, until someone told him he ran over somebody.”
“He just didn’t see them,” said Long Beach police Commissioner Michael Tangney. “He just didn’t see them. It was a terrible accident.”
Tangney said there is a full investigation underway and his department has spoken with the district attorney’s office. The commissioner said Walpole, who was given a Breathalyzer test, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The victims, conscious and alert, were placed into the back of pickup truck patrol vehicles and transferred to waiting ambulances before being taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital with broken bones and bruises.
Walpole was admitted to the hospital because he was suffering from shock.
It turns out it’s not the first time something like this has happened, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
In 2010, a Long Beach officer made an abrupt turn in the sand in his SUV and hit a 43-year-old sunbather, who suffered a fractured spine.