from the, LONG BEACH HERALD
Long Beach lifeguards, firefighters and police officers rescued five people from the ocean during two separate incidents on Memorial Day, including one involving a woman who was possibly attempting suicide and another involving two people out for a late-night swim.
The first incident occurred just after 6 p.m., when a man jogging along the beach at Long Beach Blvd. noticed a woman in distress in the water near the Monroe Blvd. jetty. The man, a Long Beach resident who was not identified, ran into the ocean to save the woman, officials said. During his rescue attempt, however, he became caught in a rip current, said Chief of Lifeguards Paul Gillespie.
Though the incident occurred after the beaches closed for the day, Gillespie added that a lifeguard crew remained on call at Lifeguard Headquarters following a busy beach day, where temperatures reached the 80s.
“We got a call and we went right down there … a guy got caught in the rip and got sucked out with the girl,” Gillespie said. “During the first [incident], they both would have probably drowned … he made a great effort to bring the girl in, but he became a victim of exhaustion.”
Long Beach firefighters also responded to the scene and assisted with the rescue, and both victims were taken to Long Beach Medical Center. Sources involved with the rescue said that while both victims took on water, they were conscious after the ordeal and are expected to be OK.
Gillespie said that the woman, whose name was not released, is in her early 20s and was intoxicated. She later told police that she had recently gone through a break up with her boyfriend, Gillespie said.
“She told the police later on that it was a suicide attempt,” Gillespie said.
The second incident occurred near the same beach at around 8:20 p.m., Gillespie said. Sgt. Eric Cregeen, the Police Department’s public information officer, said that an 8-year-old boy and his uncle became caught in a rip current while swimming near the Long Beach Blvd. jetty, and police noticed the distressed swimmers while conducting a patrol of the beach. The pair was clinging to a child’s pool float as they were dragged into deep water, Gillespie said. About 10 firefighters, police officers and off-duty lifeguards responded to the scene, Gillespie said.
Police officer Robert Fales, while on beach patrol, observed the pair in distress about 100 feet from the shore, called for assistance and threw out an inflatable rescue device, Cregeen said.
“The kid wasn’t able to grab onto it, so Fales enters the water and he was able to grab onto the victim and the flotation device at the same time,” Cregeen said.
Others involved with the rescue said that three firefighters also rushed into the water to rescue the boy and his uncle — who officials said is in his 30s and was “thrashing” through the water — while another three firefighters operated a rescue line.
The rescue lasted about 10 minutes, according to sources involved in the effort. Both victims were conscious after rescue crews brought them ashore. The victims, who are not Long Beach residents, were taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital, Cregeen said, and their injuries are not believed to be life threatening.
Though Fales had managed to reach the boy, Cregeen said his legs became entangled in a fishing line and was unable to make it back to shore. Fales took on some water, and also required assistance from firefighters, who brought him back to shore. Cregeen said he was taken to Long Beach Medical Center for observation and later released.
“Officer Robert Fales and firefighters were able to bring the kid safely ashore,” Cregeen said.
“This was way beyond the call of duty for the police officers and firemen who went in,” Gillespie said. “Those two departments saved two lives.”
Lifeguards also helped a woman in her late 20s who experienced an epileptic seizure while in the ocean at New York Ave. beach earlier in the day, Gillespie said.
“Thank god the guards were right there and got her out,” Gillespie said, adding that the woman, who was taken to a local hospital, started breathing after lifeguards turned her on her side. “She took in some water, but as far as I know she was in stable condition.”Gillespie said that aside from the jogger, none of the victims were Long Beach residents. Rip currents were particularly strong over the weekend, he said, due to rough surf created by Tropical Storm Beryl, which affected the southeastern U.S. coast.
The rescues came during a busy holiday weekend where Gillespie said that more than 100 lifeguards made hundreds of “preventive” rescues, that included directing swimmers to stay within safe areas and directing people away from emergency vehicles on the beach, among other measures.
Gillespie said that most victims are usually from out of town and that the incidents occurred at a beach known for its strong rip currents, where there is a deep hole that can easily suck people out.
Last year, three swimmers were pulled from the ocean a day after Memorial Day by off-duty lifeguards and city firefighters, after a holiday weekend in which the Fire Department received more than 60 emergency calls.
Gillespie warned about the dangers of swimming when lifeguards are off-duty, and said that signs are posted at each beach entrance informing beach-goers about rip currents. Lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends from May 26 to June 17, and daily starting June 23.
Last year, the city released a public service announcement in the months before the beaches opened warning of the dangers of rip currents and swimming in the off-season, though Gillespie said that New York City school officials have not been receptive to showing the city’s five-minute film to students and teachers.
The PSA was produced following the death of 12-year-old student Nicole Suriel in June of 2010, after she became caught in a rip current, and drowned despite a massive search by rescuers.
Suriel was part of a group of students from Harlem’s Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering who came to the beach at Edwards Boulevard. Her death came less than a month after the body of Emanuel Tiburcio, 19, of Brooklyn, washed up in Atlantic Beach, three days after he disappeared in the water off Edwards Boulevard. Last year, the city opened its beaches a week earlier, and lifeguards were on duty full-time beginning June 18, a decision that former City Manager Charles Theofan was made in the hope of preventing another tragedy.
Gillespie said the city is considering whether to allow swimmers into the water if the strong currents persist this weekend.
“When we get a hurricane or huge storm and tremendous rip currents, we’ll do a conference call with six or seven beaches on the east coast … and talk about preventive action plans which does help you make decisions,” Gillespie said. “Water could be closed [to swimmers] or maintained waist high. If it gets bad we close the water — we don’t want anyone drowning.”
if you’re from out of town stay the fuck out of the ocean after lifeguards are off duty.
itll never be the same ever again. i keep trying to convince myself that, but ive come to realize i wont feel the same way. and i wont look at you the same ever again
LOL but you all suck. if i were a guy that went there i’d want to kill myself. youre all cocky as fuck and 99% of you dont deserve to be.