Cop who ran over sunbather suspended

June 11, 2009 at 11:21 AM
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JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla., June 11 (UPI) -- A rookie police officer who drove a sport utility vehicle over a sunbather on a beach has been suspended for a week, Jacksonville Beach, Fla., police said.

Officer Lewis Keller, 45, who told internal investigators he "did not see anyone lying in the sand," was negligent and at fault in the accident, police said.

Anne Marie Giffin, 41, a Jacksonville concert pianist and piano teacher, was hospitalized with critical head, spinal, pelvic and rib injuries in the May 1 accident, her mother, Elizabeth Giffin, told the (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union shortly after the accident.

The pianist, who had performed with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, had been sunbathing alone on a towel.

She was later released from the hospital and could not be reached for comment after release of the police report.

Keller, who also could not be reached for comment, was making a U-turn on the shoreline to follow up on a case of unopened beer bottles left on the beach when his Chevrolet TrailBlazer rolled over Giffin, Keller told investigators.

He had been driving about 5 to 10 mph, witnesses said.

Keller also was suspended without pay two days last week and will forfeit 50 hours of vacation time, police said. And because he is a 10-month rookie, his standard one-year probation will be extended six months.

Police supervisors held a May 14 training for all Jacksonville Beach employees who drive on the beach emphasizing that drivers must observe sunbathers, pedestrians and bicyclists, the Times-Union said.

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