Two fatal Rockaway Beach drownings prompt new warnings for beachgoers about swimming in unguarded areas

Rockaway Beach drownings
File photo/Bill Parry

The city’s Parks Department is again urging beachgoers not to swim in closed and unguarded areas of Rockaway Beach after two people fatally drowned there on Friday.

The victims died in separate incidents that occurred at about 6 p.m. on June 17, according to police.

Law enforcement sources said the first victim, a 16-year-old girl, was pulled out of the water off the intersection of Beach 108th Street and Shore Front Parkway.

Simultaneously, police reported first responders got the second victim, a man in his late teens or early 20s, who drowned in the waters off Beach 98th Street — ten blocks to the east of the first fatal drowning.

Both victims were rushed to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, where they died, police sources said.

The two victims were among five people pulled out of the waters off Rockaway Beach on Friday, according to WABC-TV. The other three distressed victims survived.

The fatal drownings occurred at a time when the Parks Department deals with a lifeguard shortage that forced the agency to cut its indoor swim programs this summer.

Swimming is permitted at New York City beaches wherever lifeguards are on duty, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily. Beach areas marked off with red flags or signs are closed to swimmers because lifeguards are not available there. 

“We are heartbroken by these unfortunate deaths,” according to a Parks Department statement. “This is a painful reminder that New Yorkers should never enter the water in closed sections of our shoreline, where lifeguards are not present. We implore New Yorkers to only swim in open sections and when lifeguards are on duty.”