New Jersey authorities are warning people about the dangers of swimming without a lifeguard after multiple children were rescued from the ocean in back-to-back incidents.
The Atlantic City Police Department confirmed the incidents in a press release on Thursday, noting that several young children were rescued thanks to “swift and decisive actions” of the officers and bystanders.
“I am very proud of the courage and heroics displayed by the first responders and good samaritans,” Interim Officer in Charge James Sarkos said in a statement, alongside footage of both dramatic rescues.
“They did not hesitate when called upon to rescue these children,” Sarkos added. “Their swift and decisive actions helped divert a tragedy.”
According to officials, the first incident unfolded on Saturday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard beach around 5 p.m.
Tourism District Unit officers responded to the scene after receiving “reports of several young juveniles in the ocean in distress.”
However, by the time they arrived, all of the children had been pulled from the waters thanks to a Good Samaritan, who was identified as Dijon Brooks, and two other unidentified men.
Police said Brooks rescued a 4-year-old female from the ocean, while the other men rescued several other children. The exact number of kids was not disclosed.
Following the rescue, the 4-year-old girl was transported to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Division and the other children were evaluated at the scene, according to police.
At this time, their condition remains unknown.
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Just three days later, another rescue involving children happened — this time, at the Virginia Avenue beach, according to police.
Again, Tourism District Unit officers were called to the scene for a report of three kids in the water around 11:30 a.m.
When they arrived, officials said they learned that the three children were siblings from Philadelphia — two girls, ages 11 and 9, and a boy, age 8 — and witnessed a Good Samaritan, identified as Stephen Moore, attempting to help them.
Officers Ramir Hayes and Brian Victoria-Garcia said in the release that Moore was calling for help after he and the kids got “stuck on an outfall pipe as the waves continued to crash in.”
An outfall pipe is a long pipeline where treated wastewater gets discharged into the Atlantic Ocean, according to CleanOceanAction.org. In New Jersey, there are 14 ocean outfall pipes, including one in Atlantic County, the outlet reports.
Police said Hayes and Victoria-Garcia “immediately rushed in the water” to help Moore and the children, all of whom were injured from the pipe.
“Officer Victoria-Garcia stayed on the pipe to assist Moore while Officer Hayes grabbed the 11-year-old and put her in on his back carrying her to the shore,” the release stated. “Officer Hayes returned for the 9-year-old and carried her to safety.”
As for the 8-year-old boy and Moore, they were rescued by Chief Steve Downey of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, Lifeguard Brian Cain, Firefighter BJ Hamilton of the Atlantic City Fire Department and Officer Scott Crawford, police said.
The siblings, along with three officers and Moore, were later transported to a local hospital to be treated for cuts and lacerations they suffered while standing on the pipe, according to the release.
In the wake of the incidents, police said the Atlantic City Beach Patrol will begin patrolling beaches on May 29 between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m and urged people to be careful while in the waters.
“As a reminder, if you cannot see the lifeguard, the lifeguard cannot see you,” the release stated. “The Atlantic City Police Department wishes to remind all beachgoers that it is unsafe to swim when lifeguards from the Atlantic City Beach Patrol are not on duty.”
“Dangerous rip currents can be powerful and can affect even the most experienced swimmer,” they added.