2000-07-01 / Front Page

Two Drown Off Far Rock Beach

Riptide Grabs Mother, Daughter

A mother and her six-year-old daughter were the first two victims to the waters off of Rockaway on Sunday evening, June 25.

Mercedes Segura, 40, a resident of Washington Heights, took her daughter, Caribad Munoz, and nine-year-old niece, Vega Victor, swimming at the beach on Beach 17 street at approximately 7:15 p.m., almost an hour and a half after lifeguards went home for the day. Swimming 20-feet of the shoreline, a fast-moving riptide grabbed them and took the three approximately 200 feet into the ocean.

As beachgoers watched in horror, the Fire Department and NYPD were contacted. As a NYPD helicopter hovered overhead, police scuba divers plucked the mothers and daughter out of the water. The two were transported via helicopter to Peninsula Hospital Center, where they were pronounced dead after efforts to revive them failed.

Firefighter Timmy Smith, who swam out to the scene on a FDNY surfboard, rescued the nine-year-old. Smith, of Ladder 134, grabbed the girl and swam to the helicopter. Smith was assisted by Firefighter Brian Gallagher, who was treated at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for exhaustion and a strained hamstring.

The nine-year-old was also sent to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, where she was listed in stable condition.

Parks Department officials remind the public that it is prohibited to swim after lifeguards leave for the day. Rockaway’s beaches are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Starting this week, the Parks Department had vehicles patrolling the beaches to warn when the beach is closing.

Segura was also the mother of two other children, one 12 and the other 17.

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