The New York City Fire Department announced on Sunday, June 11 that one of its firefighters tragically died when swimming at the Jersey Shore beach. Details that came out later revealed that deceased firefighter, Mr. Mark Batista, was attempting to rescue his daughter from a riptide at the beach when he died.
In the post to Facebook, the department said, “We are heartbroken to learn about the death of Firefighter Mark Batista, who died Friday while swimming at the Jersey Shore. Firefighter Batista was a dedicated public servant who spent fifteen years serving in the FDNY, as both an EMT and a firefighter. We join his family in mourning his tragic passing.”
Fox News Digital reported that the incident in which Mr. Batista died occurred at about 8:30 am on Friday, when local unity responded to reports of there being two swimmers in distress in the ocean. The responding units rescued a juvenile female, and she was then transferred to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for medical evaluation. Mr. Batista was not found for hours, though rescuers searched for him using a wide variety of resources, including boats, helicopters, a drone, and divers. A US Coast Guard helicopter then found Mr. Batista’s body at about 10 am
Following the incident, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office took to Facebook to encourage people to exercise vigilance and not swim if there is not a life guard on duty to help them if a rip current endangers them. “In the wake of this morning’s unfortunate incident in Avon where a man drowned while trying to rescue his daughter after she was caught in rough surf, we once again caution all to please NOT go in the water when there are no lifeguards on duty,” the post said.
In that post, the sheriff’s department also thanked the numerous agencies and units that got involved in the search and rescue attempt, saying, “#SheriffGolden thanks the US Coast Guard, New Jersey State Police, the #MCSONJ’s Maritime Emergency Response Team (MERT), ANSWER Water Rescue Team, Avon By the Sea and neighboring First Responders and lifeguards for their life saving efforts in rescuing a teenage girl and attempts to save her father.”
The Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders, a network of those that respond to waterborne emergencies in the area, including, but not limited to lifeguard crews, fire companies, EMS agencies, police departments and search and recovery dive teams, warned about rip currents as well on its website. Discussing the danger they pose and the scale of the problem they present to safety in ocean waters, said, “Rip currents can be killers. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation’s beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.”
Continuing, the rip tide warning added that lifeguards largely nullify the risk posed by rip tides, so only swimming in areas with rip tides when a life guard is on duty is the safest option for beachgoers, saying, “The greatest safety precaution that can be taken is to recognize the danger of rip currents and always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards. The United States Lifesaving Association has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million. If caught in a rip current at an unguarded beach, how you respond could make the difference between life and death.”
Featured image credit: FDNY
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