NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – A man and woman were seriously injured when they were struck by a vehicle driven by an elderly man on New Smyrna Beach, officials said.
New Smyrna Beach Fire Department officials said the victims were hit while sitting under umbrellas on the beach near Flagler Avenue on New Smyrna Beach around 1:15 p.m. Thursday.
The driver was a 78-year-old man from Mount Dora who appeared to have suffered a medical episode that caused him to veer out of the traffic lane at a low speed, according to a spokesman for Volusia County.
"It appears that as he gradually went out of the traffic lane, he struck a couple of people under a tent," said Raymond Manchester, director of Volusia County Beach Safety Patrol.
The spokesman said the car was stopped by its passenger and by a pedestrian who reached into the vehicle to shift it into park.
Matthew Eichler was the one who jumped into the car and pulled the emergency break.
"The driver was stiff and wouldn't respond," Eichler said.
The victims did not know each other; officials said one is a 44-year-old woman from Montreal and the other is a 35-year-old man from Oviedo. In a 911 call, a witness said the man, who was bleeding from the abdomen, appeared to be in worse condition from the woman. Officials said both suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to Halifax Hospital.
In a 911 call, a witness said the driver appeared to have hit his head on the steering wheel. Officials said he did not require medical care on the scene.
Officials said charges are pending the completion of an investigation by Beach Patrol crews and the Florida Highway Patrol.