A man drowned in Brick; 3 people were hospitalized after being pulled from the surf in Toms River, as more than a dozen rescues were needed.
Karen Wall Patch Staff
JERSEY SHORE, NJ — One man drowned and three people were hospitalized Saturday as local authorities responded to more than a dozen distress calls after people ignored warnings about rip currents and swam at unguarded beaches at the Jersey Shore.
Earlier this week, the National Weather Service issued a warning saying the risk of life-threatening rip currents was high for Saturday, caused by Tropical Storm Odette. High humidity and warm temperatures on Saturday led people to decide to cool off in the water anyway.
The calls were coming in with such frequency that volunteer fire companies, police and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office urged people to stay out of the water.
“Do not swim where there are no lifeguards present,” the sheriff’s office said in an emergency alert.
“Please stay out of the water!!!” Ocean Beach Fire Company wrote. “All water rescue agencies on the barrier island are involved in multiple water rescues. The surf is extremely dangerous right now and lifeguards are off duty.”
The Seaside Park Fire Company said it had responded to 10 calls from 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Seaside Heights officials cleared the ocean beaches and at 5 p.m. closed and locked the dune crossover gates to keep people off the beach.
“Nobody is authorized to be on the beach after gates are locked,” Seaside Heights officials said.
In Brick Township, surfers tried to rescue a 54-year-old man who was in trouble in the water, but they were unable to get him to shore, police said. The Coast Guard had to be called to get him out of the water, and he died later at Ocean Medical Center, police said. Read more: Man Drowns In Rough Surf At Brick Beach
In Toms River, a Freehold man and two Connecticut women hospitalized after they were pulled from the water in Ortley Beach about 12:30 p.m., said Jillian Messina, media relations specialist for the Toms River Police Department.
A 22-year-old woman from New Fairfield, Connecticut, was pulled out of the water at 8th Avenue and Ocean Avenue by friends, as was a 29-year-old man from Freehold. Both were treated by EMS at the beach and taken to Community Medical Center, Toms River. Both were listed as stable, Messina said.
A 27-year-old woman from Brookfield, Connecticut, was listed in critical condition, Messina said. She was seen going under water several times and was pulled from the water by Seaside Heights firefighters on a rescue wave runner, Messina said. The firefighters performed CPR on her while she was on the wave runner. EMS and medics continued CPR on the beach, where they were able to restore her pulse, Messina said.
Messina said three surfers rescued a man who got caught in a rip current about 11:20 a.m. at 2nd Ave and Ocean Terrace in the Normandy Beach section. Witnesses said the man was struggling to keep his head above water, but Joseph Gates of Hopatcong got in the water with his surfboard and was able to keep the man above water. Thomas Galbraith of Warren and Colin Cronin of Lavallette went in the water with their surfboards and were able to help Gates bring the man back to shore. There were no injuries and no one needed medical assistance.
Toms River police forced swimmers to get out of the water afterward because of the dangerous conditions.
Seaside Heights Assistant Fire Chief William Rumbolo said there were multiple calls in Seaside Park, Normandy Beach, Ortley Beach, and two in Lavallette.
The National Weather Service says the risk of rip currents on Sunday is moderate.
Most of the barrier island towns stop staffing beaches with lifeguards after Labor Day weekend because the lifeguards are predominately students who go back to high school and college.
Seaside Heights and Island Beach State Park both had guards on duty this weekend.
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