Rescuers halt search for missing swimmer in Long Beach

10-year-old disappeared Tuesday while swimming


Rescue crews suspended recovery efforts Wednesday afternoon after a massive search for a missing 10-year-old boy who went swimming at Edwards Boulevard beach on Tuesday, Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins said.

The search began Tuesday at around 5:50 p.m., and was called off for the day just before 9:30 p.m. More than 50 Long Beach lifeguards, firefighters, police, members of the U.S. Coast Guard, a dive team from the New York City Police Department, Town of Hempstead bay constables and others searched for the boy.

The Coast Guard searched by boat throughout the night, and continued the effort Wednesday, along with a Nassau County Police Department dive crew and Long Beach lifeguards and police.

In a news release, the Coast Guard said that rescue crews searched the water for 22 hours. As the Herald went to press on Wednesday, the boy had not yet been found.

Officials deemed the effort a recovery mission on Tuesday night. “At this point, it’s presumed that the boy is dead,” Kemins said Wednesday afternoon. “Right now [the search efforts] are just to give the family closure.”

Searchers covered more than 310 square nautical miles, according to the Coast Guard. Long Beach’s chief of lifeguards, Paul Gillespie, said that it was possible the boy became trapped in a crevice under the Edwards Boulevard jetty, or was swept out with the current.

“We have lifeguard crews on quads and two trucks going up and down the beach searching the shoreline, looking at the jetties,” Gillespie said Wednesday. “It’s very sad.”

Kemins said that the boy, who had not been identified at press time, had entered the water with his 11-year-old brother, and both became distressed while swimming near the jetty just before 6 p.m. The older brother was removed from the water and taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside in stable condition, where he was joined by his mother, according to Lt. Eric Cregeen, a spokesman for the Long Beach Police Department.

“They were both in trouble,” Kemins said. “I’m not sure if [the older brother] was helped out or got out on his own, but his brother never came out.”

Cregeen said that although the 11-year-old was in good condition, he was kept in the hospital overnight for observation. “He’s alert and in good shape,” he said.

Cregeen said that police were investigating how the boys got to the beach, and believed they took a bus to Long Beach by themselves. Officials said that the boys, who are from Hempstead, were not with their parents.

The incident triggered a massive search that included first responders and firefighters from the Town of Hempstead, Island Park, Wantagh, Atlantic Beach, Merrick, Inwood, Lawrence and East Rockaway.

Lifeguards are not on duty full time until this weekend, though Kemins said that 30 off-duty guards rushed to the scene on Tuesday, as well as the Fire Department’s water rescue team, joining a search that involved personal watercraft, boats, helicopters and divers.

“We had our lifeguards doing search chains through the water, looking for a victim under the water,” Kemins explained, adding that the boys were 50 to 100 feet out in the ocean. “We did dives at the end of the jetties, as well as our Jet Skis. Different boats were in the water. We’ve given every possible [effort] we could to locate this child.”

“It's a big body of water, to try to find one victim,” he added. “The conditions aren’t great — there’s very little visibility. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

In August 2016, 26-year-old Rudolfo Alverez, of Brooklyn, drowned off the Edwards Boulevard beach after being caught in a rip current. That incident occurred shortly after the beaches were closed to swimmers and lifeguards were off-duty.

Kemins said that there were rip currents on Tuesday, and added that the water can be particularly dangerous near the jetties. “The current is tough,” he said. “If you don't know what you're doing … you get in trouble quickly.”