Every classic horror movie beach scene must have the following: bright sun, young children playing in the waves, bikinis, and a large underwater monster with lots of teeth stealthily approaching an oblivious human. In Volusia County in Florida, however, beachgoers should watch out for cars, which are still allowed to drive along the beach in some areas. At least 50 people have been hit by cars and injured and nine killed, including two four-year-old children in 2010.
Ellie Bland, visiting from England, was fatally struck by a car on Daytona Beach in March. Aidan Patrick died after being run over by a pickup truck on New Smyrna Beach in July. His parents have asked Volusia County to ban all vehicles from the beach. They also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county, claiming that officials failed to take appropriate action to correct a public hazard that they were aware of. In addition, they are suing the driver of the truck. Their compensation claims include funeral and medical expenses, as well as mental anguish.
The county has denied responsibility for the death and, to date, has prevailed, convincing the court to dismiss the suit several times. Public outcry after the deaths of two young children did put pressure on officials to impose some rules for driving on the beach. Drivers now must turn their lights on, keep a window open – and are banned from texting. Officials claim that these measures have reduced the number of pedestrian accidents on the beach, but the debate over the safety of beach driving continues.