Culver City Edition

Lifeguard testifies about running over Venice sunbather

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles County lifeguard admitted she inadvertently ran over a sunbather at Venice Beach with an SUV and that the accident should not have happened, according to deposition transcripts filed on behalf of the injured woman.

Lorae Bermudez of Whittier suffered a lacerated liver when she was struck by the SUV about 4:20 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2014, according to her court papers. She sued Los Angeles County in Los Angeles Superior Court two months later.

Bermudez’s lawyers included deposition excerpts from their client and the lifeguard, Lidia Barillas, in a motion asking that a judge find Los Angeles County negligent without leaving it up to a jury.

A hearing is scheduled Sept. 15, the second anniversary of the accident.

Barillas was deposed last September. Asked whether she believes in retrospect that she should have noticed Bermudez before running over her, the witness replied, “I hope I see everyone. So, yes, I should have seen her.”

Asked if Bermudez was doing anything wrong at the time, Barillas replied, “No.”

“Do you believe that anything she did contributed to the cause of the incident?” Barillas was asked next.

“No, I don’t think so,” Barillas replied.

“Is there anyone else at fault for this accident?” Barillas was asked subsequently.

“No, I don’t think so,” Barillas answered.

Barillas said she was traveling 2 to 4 mph in a Ford Escape at the time of the accident. She said she had left her tower to warn swimmers about dangerous conditions and that a warning beeper on her vehicle was activated.

“Do you feel bad about what happened to her?” Barillas was asked.

“Of course I feel bad,” she replied.

Barillas testified that Bermudez’s husband, Thomas Kim, arrived from the water and appeared “confused” about what had happened. Barillas said Bermudez, in talking to her husband, was “upset and shocked and was saying that she had just gotten hit by the truck.”

Asked what she told Kim, Barillas replied, “I told him that I accidentally ran her over and that I was very, very sorry.”

Bermudez complained of pain in her lower back, pelvic region and right ribcage area, according to Barillas.

Asked what assistance she gave Bermudez, Barillas responded, “I got her baseline vitals.”

Barillas testified she began working as a Los Angeles County lifeguard in 2007 and was given a promotion to a supervisor position a year later.

In her own deposition last June, Bermudez said her husband had left to go into the water and that she was lying on a beach towel when the accident occurred.

Not too long after that is when I felt this crushing weight come over me,” Bermudez testified.

After the wheels of the SUV had passed over her, Bermudez said she was “able to scream and yell and cry. I knew who it was that ran me over, so I expected immediate help.”