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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 16:50 GMT
French sunbather killed by police
Police officers inspect the site where a police vehicle was involved in a fatal accident on Miami Beach
The police vehicle was chasing two alleged robbers
A French tourist remains in critical condition, two days after her sister was killed when a police sport utility vehicle (SUV) ran the women over as they sunbathed on Miami beach.

Sandrine Tunc, 26, is in intensive care at Jackson Memorial Hospital after a police vehicle chasing alleged robbers struck her and her sister Stephanie, 27, as they lay on the crowded beach on Saturday.

I heard them scream... It was unreal. I thought the officer saw them and was going to stop. The girls didn't hear him coming
"She is in a critical, but stable condition," a hospital spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

The accident was witnessed by hundreds of beachgoers who said the officer, in pursuit of two suspects who had allegedly robbed a rollerskater, accidentally ran over the women.

The officer, George Varon, has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation.

The sisters, who lived in London, UK, were on holidays in Florida.

Their parents arrived in Miami from France late on Sunday and were expected to meet with Miami Mayor David Dermer and other city officials during their stay.

"This is a horrible thing for everyone, and we're trying to do as much as we can to help the family," said city spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez.

Previous incidents

The two women were lying near a lifeguard stand when they were struck.

"They probably picked a spot right next to the lifeguard station because they thought it was safer, and look what happened," beachgoer Monica Ready, 20, was quoted as saying in the Miami Herald newspaper.

Another witness says she heard the two women scream.

''It was unreal. I thought the officer saw them and was going to stop. The girls didn't hear him coming,'' the unnamed witness told the Miami Herald.

Officer Varon apparently did not see the two women as he chased robbery suspects who were reported to have mugged a man rollerblading nearby.

There have been similar incidents in the past, reports say.

In April 1999, another city vehicle ran over a pregnant woman, who survived, on the beach at the same spot, while in 1993 a German woman was killed in similar circumstances on New Smyrna Beach.



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