Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 3, 2019 12:14 p.m.
On April 24, 2019, 38 year-old Amanda Gonzalez was run over while sunbathing at Peters Point, a beach park in Nassau County, FL. The driver did not stop. The vehicle was described to be a newer model Jeep Wrangler with a black canvas top and a spare tire on the back. Witnesses said there were two people inside. Despite media reports of the incident, the driver has not subsequently turned himself/herself into authorities. A $500 reward is being offered for information on the driver.
This incident occurred amidst growing local controversy over whether the currently limited beach driving on Amelia Island and in the city of Fernandina Beach should be allowed to continue.
Although the incident did not occur on a beach within the city of Fernandina Beach, On May 1, 2019, City Commissioners received a Public Records Request from John M. Phillips, an attorney representing Amanda Gonzales. Phillips wrote:
“We represent Amanda Gonzalez, who was run over while sunbathing at Peters Point. She’s not doing well. She can barely walk and cannot drive. She relives it nightly.
“Worse yet, she’s being harassed by members of the community saying her incident or injuries were staged. I assure they were not. I’m happy to set up a meeting or provide medical records so you can see the damage caused first hand. She’s the FIFTH woman I’ve represented run over on Florida Beaches. Usually, the person who hits them says they are sorry. This person likely won’t because they kept going. Hit and run…over… And no one (and nothing) was there to stop them.
“We demand full city and county resources to find the person responsible and a moratorium on beach driving until safety can be ensured. Facts reveal it cannot. I will save quoting Florida Supreme Court cases and Florida Legislative mandates, for now, but we hope Amanda Gonzalez will be the last victim.
“We also request all records- and we mean all records -related to beach driving, registration, policies and procedures and reports of other incidents.
“I am happy to speak with you and attend the next meeting. Ms. Gonzalez was there to mediate and pray. She works in Nassau county. She was run over despite being where she was supposed to be. And now she’s called a liar out of a political issue which has nothing to do with her. You can help her and this is a request that you do.’
City officials immediately replied to Phillips to inform him that the incident did not occur in the city, and that it had not been reported to Fernandina Beach Police or Fire Rescue Departments. They suggested that he contact Nassau County for the information he had requested, adding that should he still desire, city staff would honor his information request.
City Attorney Tammi Bach said that as of yesterday, Phillips had not contacted her office.
In response to a Fernandina Observer request for additional information about the incident, Phillips provided photographs of Gonzalez’ knees, reproduced below:
Jacksonville media reports indicated that a $500 reward is being offered for information that would identify the driver of the white Jeep.
The sunbather’s attorney also asks that anyone with details about the incident call 904-444-4444 or email [email protected].
Anyone with information about Thursday’s case or the whereabouts of the driver or vehicle involved is also asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 904-225-5174.