THROGS NECK, Bronx (PIX11) — Jesus Ortega was a really good swimmer and a Navy veteran, according to his family, who worked by day in a Long Island City factory.
But the 46-year-old’s real passion was on the nights and weekends when he would fish round the clock.
“He could swim from here to Orchard Beach. I don’t know many people who can do that,” Ortega’s daughter-in-law, Frances Batista told PIX11. “Drowned, are you kidding?” she added.
So these grieving relatives and friends cannot understand the police version of what happened.
Police Say Ortega and a friend were fishing from an anchored boat near the Stepping Stone Lighthouse off the Bronx shoreline near the Throgs Neck Bridge when they panicked that a cruising powerboat was going to smash right into them.
Both men jumped into the Long Island sound around 11:40 PM to avoid being hit.
When the boat passed without hitting them, Ortega’s 53-year-old friend climbed back into their boat but Ortega did not.
“His friend keeps looking for him. He hears Jesus say I am drowning, but he can’t find him,” Batista said.
The NYPD Harbor unit, Coast Guard, and the FDNY emergency response pulled Ortega out of the water and rushed him to the hospital where he later died.
Now his family and friends want those in the other boat held criminally responsible for Ortega’s death.
“Where is the other boat? Why aren’t the detectives going after the other boat?” Batista asked.
The city’s Medical Examiner will determine the exact cause of death.
The NYPD says there is no criminality in this boating accident.
“I miss him already,” Ortega’s friend, Geraldo Diaz said, trying to hold back his sobs.