Cedarhurst resident Aaron Tepfer dies

Extrication from boat propeller was a team effort for emergency responders


Aaron Tepfer attended the school where his mother is a fifth grade teacher. The 10-year-old was heading into the sixth grade at Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway. Monday would have been his first day of school.

The Cedarhurst resident died last Saturday due to injuries he sustained in a boating accident in Reynolds Channel on Aug. 23, when he fell out of the tube that was attached to a 27-foot Sea Ray Sundeck boat operated by a friend’s father and his left leg was struck by the boat’s propeller, police said, adding that there were five other children aboard the boat.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Aaron Tepfer who died this past weekend as a result of a boating incident,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray. “I also would like to thank the six Town of Hempstead Bay Constables for their efforts to rescue the young boy in the wake of this tragic incident.”

Fire departments and rescue and police units responded to the scene near Atlantic Beach after the initial call came in at 2:23 p.m. Four Lawrence-Cedarhurst firefighters, Capt. Steven Magliaro, Lt. Thomas Foy and firefighters David Kocaj and Justin Caliguari, got to the scene on the department’s boat which is moored at the yacht club, LCFD Chief John McHugh said.

“They found the child stuck in the propeller mechanism and freed him,” McHugh said. They used their EMT training, and they secured the leg as best they could and got him onto our boat. They took him to Atlantic Beach Rescue Squad and were met by Inwood Fire Department ambulance that took him to St. John’s.”

Atlantic Beach Rescue Squad Lt. Jesse Lunin-Pack and rescue swimmer Jean Marion arrived on personal watercraft before the squad’s boat. “We deployed Jean in the water along with Long Beach firefighters Justin Fitzmartin and Ethan Edrich who had been drilling nearby and also arrived by personal watercraft. Working with the crew from Lawrence-Cedarhurst, we attempted to control the bleeding and free him from the propeller assembly-a very difficult task in the unstable environment of the water,” said Lunin-Pack, adding the boy’s death weighed heavily on the emergency responders. “Everyone from all the departments on scene really worked well together as a group.”

After he had fallen out of the tube, the man operating the boat stopped the boat and Tepfer swam towards the vessel, police said. As he tried to get on the boat, his left leg got caught in the propeller.

Informed by his son that Tepfer was under the water, the man grabbed Tepfer's life vest, and Tepfer told him his leg was stuck in the propellers.

Tepfer was admitted to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway in serious condition, He was transferred to Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park. Tepfer died at the hospital at 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 24, according to police.

A Nassau County police and a New York City Police helicopter also responded, said McHugh, adding that conducting a water rescue is not easy. “The actions they took were appropriate and CPR was administered on the boat,” McHugh said about his firefighters and the other responding units. “They kept him alive under extremely difficult conditions.”

The boat was taken to Nassau County’s Marine Bureau as the investigation continues. Police said there is no apparent criminality at this time.