A 14-year-old boy tragically drowned while swimming in the ocean off Far Rockaway in Queens on Sunday evening. The incident occurred near Beach 75th Street around 5:45 p.m., after the beach had closed early due to inclement weather. When this happened, his mother was also waiting for her teen son on the beach.
Eyewitnesses, traumatized by the scene, described the boy as foaming at the mouth and “blue from head to toe.” Despite the efforts of rescuers, the boy could not be saved.
The boy, whose identity remains unknown as of Monday, found himself in distress after being caught in the rough waters. He was underwater for several minutes before a retired lifeguard, visiting her active lifeguard friend, sprang into action. Basia Lewandowski, the ex-lifeguard, explained that emergency whistles were blown to alert others of the situation. While her friend and other lifeguards dove into the waves to reach the boy, Lewandowski acted as their point person on the beach. Unfortunately, by the time they reached the child, it was too late. Lewandowski described the boy as foaming and filled with water, indicating that he had been submerged for a significant amount of time.
Heartbreaking scenes unfolded on the shore as the boy’s distressed mother anxiously awaited his return. Witnesses reported that she cried out for her son and began praying fervently. Sharon Grant, who witnessed the incident, shared that the teen appeared “blue from head to toe” when he was carried out of the ocean. The emotional toll was evident, even among the lifeguards, who were moved to tears.
First responders were immediately called to the scene and attempted to revive the boy using CPR. Despite their efforts, he did not regain consciousness. He was then transported to the hospital, where he tragically passed away. The Parks Department confirmed that there were no lifeguards on duty at the time of the incident, as the beach had closed early at 5 p.m. due to thunder and lightning. Red flags had been raised to warn beachgoers of the unsafe swimming conditions.
It is crucial to note that the decision to close the beach and not have lifeguards present was in accordance with protocol. Basia Lewandowski emphasized that the closure was necessary due to the presence of thunder, and the lifeguards were not required to be on the beach. The exact circumstances surrounding the drowning have not been disclosed by officials.