Rough surf claims another life in Long Branch
LONG BRANCH — A swimmer died in the rough waters at Seven Presidents Park on Saturday, the second drowning this week at the Jersey Shore.
A 34-year-old man died on the evening of a day where temperatures climbed into the 80's and drew crowds to the beach, which is now unguarded. Monmouth County Park Rangers and Long Branch Police were involved in trying to rescue the man. Long Branch Police did not disclose the man's identity. They did tell NJ.com the man was from Piscataway.
A High Risk of Rip Currents was in effect due to Hurricane Maria, a powerful storm 800 miles south-southeast of New Jersey.
The rough surf led Belmar to ban swimming on its beaches all weekend. Mayor Matt Doherty said a few people tried to go into the water on Saturday but water rescue personnel are keeping an eye on the beach and told them to get out.
The Coast Guard reported the rescue of two swimmers off the 4th Avenue Beach in Belmar just before 6 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Two lifeguards and an off-duty police officer swam out to assist the swimmers in distress. The Coast Guard's Station Shark River sent a boat which brought all five people back to shore.
Brian Devlin, spokesman for the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol said his lifeguards are advising people each day about the very dangerous conditions in the water & encouraging them to go no deeper than to their ankles.
"As Maria moves in over the next few days, it will be very rough & we hope/expect people to see that & not want to go in despite the nice weather," Devlin said.
North Wildwood beaches at 7th Ave., 10th Ave., 15th Ave., 18th Ave. and 22nd Ave.are guarded and open this weekend, according to the city's Buildings, Parks and Grounds Facebook page. Swimmers were urged to swim near the lifeguards.
"As Maria churns up the entire Atlantic Basin, increased swell will cause big waves, which presents a exceptionally high threat for rip currents. Common sense goes a long way. When the ocean is this angry, it's best to watch from afar and not put your life in danger," said Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.
It has been a deadly summer on Jersey Shore beaches with over a dozen reported ocean drownings.
Asbury Park police said Erin Higgins,42, of Harriman, NY and Ronald Renshtie, 54 of Wallkill, NY were swimming in chest-deep water Wednesday afternoon when they apparently got caught in a rip current.
Renshtie was able to swim back to shore and was helped out of the water. But several witnesses told emergency responders that Higgins was still in the water.
Higgins was soon found and hospitalized but died the next day.
If you find yourself caught in a rip current, the NWS has some advice to follow:
- Don’t fight the current. It’s a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second—faster than an Olympic swimmer.
- Relax and float to conserve energy. Staying calm may save your life.
- Do NOT try to swim directly into to shore. Swim parallel to the shoreline until you escape the current’s pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
- If you feel you can’t reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help. Remember: Wave and yell; swim parallel to the beach.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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