Florida deputy drove over woman as she sunbathed in St. Pete

Florida deputy drove over woman as she sunbathed in St. Pete

A young Florida woman’s trip to the beach turned into a nightmare when an on-duty sheriff’s deputy ran her over while she was sunbathing, authorities said.

Robin Elaine Diffenderfer, 23, was soaking up the rays at St. Pete Beach at about 1 p.m. Wednesday when Pinellas County Deputy Todd Brien got a 911 call as he patrolled the pristine sand and emerald green waters, the Pinella County’s Sheriff’s Office said.

Brien, who was speaking to several beachgoers at the time, was then dispatched to another location in his fully marked 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe following the 911 hang-up call, the sheriff’s office said.

“Deputy Brien made a right turn from his parked position, when he struck [Diffenderfer] while she was lying on her back in the sand,” department officials said in a statement late Wednesday.

The front driver’s side tire of Brien’s SUV drove over Diffenderfer’s right side and “mid to upper back area,” deputies said.

Pinellas County Sheriff officers gather at a beach to enforce social distancing restrictions in the town of Pass-A-Grille, Florida, U.S., on Monday, May 4, 2020. On Monday, sun worshippers and outdoor enthusiasts were able to return to Clearwater Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast after all beaches in Pinellas County reopened for the first time in six weeks.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

She was rushed to a hospital, but was expected to survive, deputies said.

Brien, 58, who was hired by the department in November 2013, was not hurt during the incident, the sheriff’s office said.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing. A department spokeswoman told The Post no additional information was available early Thursday, including an update on the victim’s condition.

Chairs from Loews Don CeSar on St. Pete Beach
Pinellas County Deputy Todd Brien was not hurt during the incident.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Attempts to reach Diffenderfer, of Jacksonville, were unsuccessful.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office posted a release about the incident on its Facebook page, where several commenters chimed in on the unusual incident.

“Maybe don’t drive huge vehicles on the beach?” one woman suggested.

From left to right, Hannah Romero, 19, kicks a ball between sand castle molds as posts for a goal while Evan Barley, 20, watches and Wilson M., 7, attempts to block her and Madeline Barley, 18, of Indiana, plays goalie at St. Pete Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021.
Robin Elaine Diffenderfer was rushed to a hospital, but is expected to survive.
Ivy Ceballo/Tampa Bay Times via AP

Another woman said she thought Brien should be fired for the accident.

“Should not be so oblivious that he isn’t aware of the pedestrians around him on the beach,” she wrote. “Being in a marked police car isn’t an excuse.”

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