For the second time in four months, a 4-year-old child has died after being struck by a vehicle driving on Volusia County's beaches.
A 2003 Dodge pickup truck rolled over Aiden Patrick of Daytona Beach a little after 3 p.m. Sunday on New Smyrna Beach, said Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol. (The victim earlier was identified by authorities as "Aden Ball.")
Aiden was on the beach with his parents near Crawford Road when he ran toward the water and into the path of the red truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The front right tire ran over the boy.
Aiden did not have a pulse and was not breathing when emergency workers arrived, said Mark O'Keefe, a spokesman for the EVAC ambulance service. The child was pronounced dead at Bert Fish Medical Center.
Troopers identified the truck's driver as Donovan Sias, 33, of New Smyrna Beach. A preliminary investigation showed he was not speeding and could not see the boy, FHP said.
Sias could not be reached for comment Sunday night. The accident remains under investigation.
Beachgoers said the New Smyrna area had been packed with people on Sunday. Adam Susong of Tennessee, who had been about 50 yards away from the accident scene, said in an e-mail the beaches seem more crowded this year than on previous vacations.
"Personally, I have always wondered why driving is allowed on the beach, knowing there will be young children running around," wrote Susong, who did not see Sunday's accident. "I would imagine this will continue to happen as long as driving is allowed on the beaches with so little oversight."
Shortly after the death, a County Council member renewed her call to end the controversial tradition of beach driving — a century-long practice that helped give birth to NASCAR.
"It's time that we really get cars off the beach. In fact, it's way past time," said Pat Northey, a longtime advocate of removing cars from the beaches. "Until we stop treating the beach as a roadway, we're going to have to continue to deal with tragedies."
In the past five years, more than 40 people have been struck or run over by vehicles on the beach, with at least 20 suffering serious injuries, county records show.
Those struck include Ellie Bland, a 4-year-old British girl killed in Daytona Beach in March. Ellie, vacationing from England, was walking hand in hand with her great-uncle March 20 when a Lincoln Town Car driven by a Georgia woman struck and killed her.
Northey said she was not sure that the latest tragedy would change county leaders' stance, given that Ellie's death "didn't seem to soften any hearts then."
Beach driving has been the target of legal challenges for years, criticized for posing potential dangers to both wildlife and humans.
Volusia separates its beaches into three zones: "natural" ones where no beach driving is allowed; "transitional" ones where it is permitted 30 feet seaward of the dunes or seawall; and "urban" ones where people can drive and park 15 feet seaward of the dunes. The accident happened in a transitional zone.
After Ellie's death, council member Carl Persis called for establishing more car-free zones on the beach, but he found little support among fellow council members.
Other county leaders argue that they must provide access to the beach and do not have enough off-beach parking to do that without allowing cars on the sand.
Ludmilla Lelis of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Sandra Pedicini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5240.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times