Tracie Moll of Fort Lauderdale, Florida ran over Rinda Mizelle while on duty as an Ocean Rescue lieutenant, according to reports. Moll allegedly was driving a lifeguard Ocean Rescue SUV on the beach when she accidentally ran over Rinda Mizelle, who was sunbathing. Moll has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the incident. It is not clear whether she has retained a private criminal defense attorney.
According to the accident report, 49-year-old Mizelle was sunbathing on the beach near 800 Seabreeze Blvd in Fort Lauderdale at approximately 3:00 p.m. last Tuesday when the accident occurred. Moll was reportedly driving the Ocean Rescue SUV and talking to another person in the vehicle when she drove over Mizelle. Moll reportedly did not see Mizelle lying on the sand and stopped the vehicle with Mizelle trapped underneath.
“All I can tell you is that suddenly I was a human speed bump,” Mizelle, who was in Fort Lauderdale on vacation, told the press. “There were tires moving over my body… I started screaming and then everything goes dark because the SUV was blocking the sun.” She told the press that she felt lucky to be alive.
Sources indicate that two lifeguards dug trenches in the sand to free Mizelle, who was transported to Broward General Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. She was released from the hospital and has returned to her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she is recovering. She told the press that she suffered from cuts and burns. “The left side of my body got it the worst. My right arm had to be stitched. We change my bandages twice a day,” she informed reporters.
Moll, who has made any public comments on the incident due to city regulations, has been placed on administrative leave as the Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department performs an internal investigation. She has been working as a lifeguard lieutenant for 24 years and is one of 20 permanent lifeguards in charge of protecting beachgoers in Fort Lauderdale.
In the wake of the accident, some are criticizing the concept of driving lifeguard vehicles on the beach, which can pose a safety hazard to sunbathers. Despite the fact that lifeguards undergo special training regarding driving vehicles on beaches, it can still be difficult to see people lying on the sand from inside of a large vehicle. Moll is reportedly planning on pursuing legal action with the city of Fort Lauderdale to try to impose new regulations regarding driving trucks on beaches to prevent like incidents from happening in the future.
While the city reports that an accident like this has not occurred in Fort Lauderdale before, sunbathers have been run over in nearby cities. For example, Miami Beach officer Derek Kulian made headlines last year when he allegedly drunkenly ran over two people on a beach with an all-terrain vehicle registered to the city of Miami. His blood alcohol content was reportedly still over the .08% legal limit five hours after the incident. He is currently undergoing prosecution for DUI and has lost his position with the police department.