2004-09-10 / Community

Surfing Rockaway Waves, Summer Saves Drowning Teen

By Howard Schwach


Summer Trusttum loves to surf, and particularly loves to surf in Rockaway. That love may have led to the rescue of a teen-age girl recently.

The ten-year-old was catching the waves off Beach 143 Street last week, when she saw a girl struggling in the surf 200 yards from shore.

“She was crying and she kept going under the waves,” Summer remembers. She quickly realized that the drowning teen was too big for her to tackle alone, so she paddled to shore and ran to the lifeguard tower.

“I told her that there was a girl drowning,” she says. She pointed in the direction of the girl because the lifeguard could not see her at first in the high waves.

The lifeguard spotted the girl moving away from the shore, caught in waves that topped at seven feet, and blew her whistle for assistance from other lifeguards further down the beach.

The whistle was heard instead by off-duty firefighter Brian Mullen and retired firefighter Whipper stathis.

The two men joined the unidentified lifeguard and plunged into the surf.

Summer remained on the shoreline, showing responding lifeguards where to go. The three reportedly fought their way to the girl, but lost track of her and were about to begin diving under the water to find her.

They spotted her cresting a wave, however and pulled her to shore.

The unidentified swimmer was head down and not breathing when she was brought to shore, but a quick dose of oxygen revived her and she had time to thank Summer and the others who were involved in the rescue.

The inherent danger of ocean beaches was once again made clear the next day, when a seventeen-year-old Jamaica resident drowned on Beach 96 the following day.

Summer was in the water when she saw the NYPD helicopter overhead, searching for the boy.

She plans to continue surfing well into the fall, thanks to a wet suit she got for her tenth birthday.

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