Tragedy At The Beach
Today is the first full day of summer and already we’ve had a swimmer drown on an Ocean County beach.
Authorities will resume the search today for an 18-year old man from Bayonne who got caught in a rip off the O Street beach in Seaside Park Wednesday afternoon. He and three other friends were reportedly swimming pretty far out around 2:30 when they got in trouble. Three managed to get back to the beach but one did not. Later in the day the Atlantic Ocean claimed the life of a 23-year old man from Irvington, who disappeared off the Second Avenue beach in Asbury Park.
I witnessed the scene in Seaside Park where local, county and state search and rescue teams along with the Coast Guard worked feverishly to try and locate the missing swimmer from Bayonne. There are a couple of issues here as the drowning occurred the day before lifeguards begin working on a full-time basis in Seaside Park. First you have the fact that in all likelihood the four swimmers were inexperienced and had no business being far out in the water on an unguarded beach. Clearly the blame falls squarely on them and others who test Mother Nature when they should not.
However I think it’s fair to question borough officials as to why lifeguards are not starting fulltime until today. With schools out early this year because of the mild winter one could have predicted that warm weather might result in crowded beaches earlier than normal.
Yesterday temperatures soared into the 90’s and beaches were jammed with many people in the water. Even though beach badges were not required I believe towns in the tourism business have some responsibility and need to put a plan into action because you can’t possibly expect on a day like yesterday that beachgoers are going to stay out of the water.
By the way in nearby Seaside Heights lifeguards have been on duty for weeks and they not only assisted in yesterday’s efforts in Seaside Park but pulled out more than two dozen swimmers on their own beach who needed assistance. The Seaside Heights Beach Patrol was also called on to help last week when there were rescues on unprotected beaches at Island Beach State Park.