Reporting Todd Quinones
By Todd Quinones
WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) - Every evening at 5:30 in Wildwood, swimmers are told to get out of the water.
Lifeguards pull their stands out of the surf and the beach patrol calls it a day and heads home.
Moments later though, people head back into the water. It’s a ritual that has proven fatal at the shore this summer.
Five people have drowned off of a Jersey beach this season, including 10-year-old Khitan Devine who was swimming in Atlantic City.
He along with four others this summer all died while a lifeguard was not on duty.
“We will have an average of three or four rescues a day or some minor rescues. What we call a fish out,” said Captain Steve Stocks of the Wildwood Beach Patrol.
Captain Stocks has been with the Wildwood Beach Patrol for 27 years.
He says lifeguards spend much of their day steering people out of danger in the water.
The problem with people going in the ocean after lifeguards have left is most swimmers, even strong swimmers, don’t know what a rip current looks like until it’s too late.
“The guards who sit out here for eight-hour shifts, they understand that. They are trained in that,” Stocks said.
Two 15-years-olds we found swimming after lifeguards left admitted they can’t spot a rip current.
“The waves are so nice, so I guess might as well be here,” said swimmer Austin Fane.
People who swim at their own risk do so for a variety of reasons.
Jim Stebbins and his wife were out swimming with their five children with no lifeguards.
“We come out here late in the day to get away from the crowds and the traffic and everything. You take your chances,” Stebbins said.
Devine was swimming with his family when it’s believed a strong rip current pulled him out to sea.