CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) — Cape May continues to mourn a young lifeguard, killed in an accident involving a surfboat. These boats are iconic, they’ve been around for about 100 years. They are useful despite advances in technology, and officials say these boats are not going anywhere.
The sudden loss of a member of the Cape May City Beach Patrol is still so fresh inside lifeguard headquarters.READ MORE: 'Most Egregious Story I've Ever Heard': Local Man Has Prostate Removed After Mistaken Cancer Diagnosis
“This kid was truly a great kid. He was loved by everybody on the beach,” Cape May Beach Patrol Captain Marty Franco said.
It’s been exactly two weeks since Norman Inferrera III was knocked unconscious while rowing a surfboat. He died the following day. It was a tragic accident.
His memory is very much alive within these four walls, where tributes remain, and messages of sympathy linger.
“Every time I talk to his dad, ‘He loved you guys so much, he loved rowing so much, he just loved the Beach Patrol, he would have done this forever,'” Franco said.
Eyewitness News contacted beach patrol leaders this week to learn more about published reports suggesting there could be a change to the use of surfboats going forward.
Franco said any word of a change is not true.
There’s debate about the use of surf boats, especially among those on the Cape May Beach Patrol following the accidental death of one of their own two weeks ago. Officials confirm to #CBS3 the boats will remain — there will be no policy change. Story at 4 and 6 @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/AlajiRfIAhREAD MORE: One Of Last Marines To Leave Afghanistan Returns Home To Hero's Welcome In Ridley Township
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) August 31, 2021
“We have no policy changes as of now,” Franco said.
Towns up and down the Jersey Shore use the boats to facilitate quick rescues in the surf and rescues of multiple people, CBS3 is told they’re also primarily useful in guarding those in the surf.
“You can sit outside and you’re up high and you guard large amounts of people and a large area from out there that you just can’t do from the stand,” Franco said.
At just 16, Norman made a lasting impression on his colleagues. Now like family, on the Cape May Beach Patrol, Franco says out of respect for his memory, the boats will stay, explaining the young man loved them so much.
“If we pull these boats, that would be so dishonoring to his memory it would be a sin,” Franco said.
Franco also told Eyewitness News that because Norman loved these boats so much, that only makes them more confident in their decision to keep them here as part of the landscape.MORE NEWS: WATCH: Surveillance Video Catches Olney Drive-By Shooting That Killed 1, Injured 5
Norman was a rookie lifeguard, 16 years old, and he made 23 saves on these beaches.