BROAD CHANNEL, Queens — Two swimmers in their early teens went missing off the coast of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens around 11:40 AM on Friday, according to eyewitnesses and the NYPD and FDNY. Authorities confirmed on Friday afternoon that both swimmers died.
Eyewitnesses told PIX11 News that they saw a group of at least five teens wading in the water at the Cross Bay Kiteboarding launch area, around 11:30 on Friday morning. Two of the teens were on a surfboard, according to witnesses.
They said that a rip current, known locally as water circling, pulled the surfboard down into a deep channel about 30 feet offshore.
“So the water was circling,” an eyewitness said, “and the two of them dropped off [the surfboard], and they went down.”
The teens, two boys, about 13 years old, were pulled underwater, witnesses said, and never resurfaced.
“There were five of them,” said Irsi Prasaud, another eyewitness, who observed the group of teens enter the water. “[Then], two of them wasn’t there. When the come out, Two of them wasn’t there,” he said.
At least six rescue boats from the FDNY, NYPD, Coast Guard, and the city’s Parks Department responded to the scene, as did two dive teams, an NYPD helicopter, and other first responders engaged in a search. Ultimately, they found the two missing boys. Despite efforts to revive them, they didn’t make it, according to witnesses.
They said that one of the teens was pulled out of the water within minutes of rescuers arriving. He was transported to a local hospital in grave condition, but ultimately didn’t survive, according to the NYPD.
The second swimmer’s body was recovered about 30 minutes after the search began, according to witnesses, who spoke about how deeply affected they were by the tragedy.
“I feel so sad and depressed when I see that,” said Prasaud. “It’s sad. It’s sad. Very sad.”