2004-06-25 / Front Page

PD, FD, Lifeguards Pull Two Teens

From Raging Current

Two Brooklyn girls, aged 16 and 18, reportedly fresh from a high school graduation party, decided to go swimming on Beach 116 Street 45 minutes after the lifeguards went off duty for the day on Wednesday and wound up in Peninsula Hospital Center for their actions.

While published reports on the incident are contradictory, The Wave has learned that police officers from the 103 Precinct assigned to Rockaway's summer detail, teamed up with firefighters from Engine 268/Ladder 137 and off-duty lifeguards to pull the two girls and a third who went into the surf to rescue them, from a raging rip current that had pulled them more than 125 yards from the beach.

Police Officer Robert Maloney from the 103 Precinct in Jamaica, who was assigned to the summer detail only three days before the incident, and two other officers responded at 6:45 p.m. to calls of help coming from the water.

When Maloney and his partners arrived at the water's edge, they saw the still-unidentified teens in the water, struggling to stay afloat.

Maloney, an ex-Marine who reportedly has been trained in water rescue, and the best swimmer of the three, stripped to his t-shirt and pants, passing his vest, shirt and gun belt to his partners. He then plunged into the surf and swam to the girls.

By then, a number of off-duty lifeguards arrived at the scene and joined Maloney in the water.

An NYPD helicopter, responding from Floyd Bennett Field, dropped a life buoy into the water and Maloney managed to get the lifesaving device over the arms of the older girl, who seemed to be most in danger of drowning.

Lifeguard Thaddeus Schneider, who has worked on the beach for 10 years, was the first to reach the girls and the now-tiring Maloney and help them to shore.

As Maloney and Schneider were bringing the two girls in to shore, the firefighters arrived and put surfboards in the water to assist in the rescue.

The firefighters and a female lifeguard stayed in the water, looking for the third girl, who had, by then, found her own way out of the water.

"This underscores the importance of entering the water only when a lifeguard on duty," said Parks Department spokesperson Megan Sheekey.

"This was a joint effort," says Captain Paul Piekarsky, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct. "We worked together with the fire department and the lifeguards to get the rescue effected."

Piekarsky said that he would like to thank all of those involved, including the NYPD's Aviation Unit, the fire department and the Parks Department lifeguards.

Some published reports in the daily papers said that the fire department had rescued Maloney, who was tired and in trouble, along with the two girls, but police spokespersons denied that report.

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