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Injured Tourist Asks for Apology

March 08, 2003|From Associated Press

MIAMI — A French tourist whose sister was killed when a police vehicle ran over them as they were sunbathing said Friday that such vehicles should be banned from beaches.

"Too many people have been injured. Too many people have died. And too many people have suffered. This must never happen again," said Sandrine Tunc, 26, who was critically injured in the accident.

Dressed in black with her hair pulled back tightly and walking with the aid of a cane, Tunc spoke publicly Friday for the first time since the Feb. 22 accident.

Tunc said she was disappointed that the officer driving the Ford Explorer hasn't apologized to the family, and added she thinks he should go jail.

"I want to see him," Tunc said, her cheeks reddened by tears. "I want him in front of me. I want him to remember my face for the rest of his life. I want him to suffer the way I am going to suffer for the rest of my life."

The sisters were sunbathing on a crowded oceanfront beach when Officer George Varon, chasing suspected muggers, ran over them with a sport utility vehicle, killing 27-year-old Stephanie Tunc. The suspects got away.

Varon is on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.

"He's obviously very upset," said police spokesman Bobby Hernandez. "He wants to apologize ... but it's not proper right now."

After the accident, the city adopted a policy requiring officers to use overhead flashing lights when they drive on the beach. Varon wasn't using his lights or siren at the time.

In similar incidents in recent years on Miami Beach, city vehicles struck a pregnant woman in April 1999 and a sunbathing Peruvian tourist in November 1993. Both survived.

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