Trial begins in case of tourist run over while sunbathing in Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A teacher from North Carolina is suing the City of Fort Lauderdale after she was struck by a beach patrol SUV while sunbathing.

Forty-nine-year-old Rinda Mizelle was vacationing in 2012 when the incident took place. She was lying on the sand with her shorts covering her face before a lifeguard in a patrol vehicle drove over her.

“I just thought I was going to die. I wasn’t really thinking about being able to get out. I thought, ‘OK, this is the way I die,’ and then I thought, ‘No, you have to let somebody know you’re under here. You have to draw attention to yourself,'” Mizelle said while taking the stand, “so I took a really deep breath and I purposefully screamed as loud as I could.”

Mizelle shared photos of her injuries with 7News, which showed she was badly burned and that she had suffered cuts on her arms and legs.

“I didn’t hear anybody. I didn’t see anything. I just had this hot spaceship on top of me,” she said.

Now, six years later and after several delays, the trial in Mizelle’s civil suit against the city finally began, Tuesday.

Mizelle said she suffered permanent neurological damage from the accident and that she is in constant pain.

However, the city argued to the jury, that she has full range of motion and that she has no permanent scars from the incident.

“The city is not contesting that this incident didn’t happen. The city is not contesting that Ms. Mizelle suffered an awful situation with this vehicle,” said defense attorney Jeffery Lawley. “Those aren’t issues in the case. This is a case of what damages can be proven and what is the just and reasonable compensation for Ms. Mizelle’s injuries.”

Mizelle described to the court what she was thinking the moment she was run over.

“I opened my eyes, and my shorts had been dragged from my face. It was like the Millennium Falcon was over top of me, like a spaceship, and I thought, ‘Well, this is really weird,'” she said. “Nothing is making sense. Nothing makes any sense. Why is this machine over top of me, where did everybody go and where am I? And then I realized it wasn’t kids on ATVs, and then I realized that it was probably that truck that had been on the other side of the tower. It was hot. It was really hot. I thought, ‘Oh God.'”

Once the trial wraps up, the jury will then decide if the city owes Mizelle money.

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