BELMAR, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Rip currents have left one girl dead and two teenagers missing on two different New Jersey beaches where lifeguards were not on duty.
A 13-year-old died and her 12-year-old cousin was on life-support after they were found floating facedown Thursday night, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said. The girls’ names were not immediately released. Both attended the town’s elementary school, where grief counselors were on hand Friday for the last day of classes.
In Atlantic City, the search continued for two teenagers who witnesses reported being pulled under by rip currents Thursday night. Officials are saying the rescue is now considered a recovery effort.
Atlantic City police identified them as 15-year-old Ramon Quinn, of Pleasantville, and 16-year-old Kaliyah Hand. A family member told The Press of Atlantic City her last name was Spence, but her father said Friday it was Hand.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said lifeguards had gone home for the day before the teens entered the water. Police said Quinn was trying to rescue Hand when both were pulled under by the strong current.
In Belmar, lifeguards were to begin full-time staffing of the beaches Monday, once school let out for the summer and students were available to work as lifeguards, the mayor said. Several were on the beach Thursday, although they had left by the time the girls went into the water.
JeanMarie Ceravolo-Schulman, who lives in neighboring Wall Township, told nj.com she spotted one of the girls in the surf, pulled her out and tried unsuccessfully to revive her.
“I kept saying, ‘come on baby girl, come on baby girl,” she said. “It’s heart-wrenching.”
Doherty said the school in the popular seaside resort town had just completed a water safety course last week.
“Twelve-year-olds and 13-year-olds go to the beach in Belmar all the time; it’s why we live here,” he said.
Doherty said the surviving girl, a fifth grader, remained on life support Friday.
“They’re just sweet girls who are willing to help other children,” Belmar schools Superintendent David R. Hallman said. “So it’s just a difficult time right now.”
It is rare for someone to drown on a beach protected by lifeguards. The majority of drowning deaths at the New Jersey shore occur after-hours or on unguarded beaches, where lifeguards are not present.
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