Disappearance of boys off Rockaways serves as grim reminder of rip tide danger

Beach in Rockaways where two teens went missing due to rip tide
The area of Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways where two teens went missing in the water due to an apparent rip tide on June 21, 2024, police officials said.
Photo via X/@NYPDDaughtry

The grim search continues for two teenage boys swept away by a rip tide off Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways on Friday evening.

Published reports indicated the teens were reported missing at about 6:35 p.m. on June 21, prompting a massive search conducted by several agencies — including the U.S. Park Police, the Coast Guard, the FDNY and the NYPD.

At a Friday night briefing, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry said it is believed the boys had been pulled out to sea by a rip tide. 

The search continued until 10 p.m., when first responders paused the operation due to darkness. They were expected to resume after daybreak Saturday.

“A parent’s worst nightmare is our worst nightmare, and we will not rest until BOTH OF THEM are found,” Daughtry wrote on X (formerly Twitter). 

Rip currents are a frequent risk at beaches in the Rockaways and beyond. The powerful tides extend from the shoreline and pull water out to sea; the stronger the surf, the more dangerous the rip tides can be.

The National Weather Service offers the following tips on how to survive if a rip tide pulls you off the shore:

  • Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
  • Never fight against the current.
  • Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
  • Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle–away from the current–towards shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
  • If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

The city also advises New Yorkers never to swim on beaches where no lifeguards are on duty. During beach season, lifeguards are on duty between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.