2005-08-25 / Front Page

Rescued After ‘Weird’ Current Takes Her To Sea

By Howard Schwach

An EMS worker tends to Judy Cunningham, who had just been pulled from the surf on Beach 90 Street.          Photo by Doug McloedAn EMS worker tends to Judy Cunningham, who had just been pulled from the surf on Beach 90 Street. Photo by Doug Mcloed

Judy Cunningham has surfed the big breakers in Hawaii. She has surfed on Rockaway’s surfing beach twice before.

She was not ready for what she found off Beach 90 Street in Rockaway on Wednesday afternoon, however, when she was pushed out to sea by a “strange current” and had to be rescued by lifeguards with the assistance of police officers and firefighters.

Cunningham, who lives in Westchester, told The Wave that the whole incident was “weird.”

“I went out on my board even though the water was flat,” she said. “I was blown out to sea by a current. I screamed for twenty minutes and nobody heard me, nobody came. I thought I’d wind up in Hawaii”

Finally she said, a lifeguard on a surfboard came to her rescue, but the current was so strong that they continued to move out to sea.

“We were both fighting the current and making a little headway, but we were both exhausted,” Cunningham said. She figures that they were about 1,500 yards from shore when another lifeguard came out with a long rescue rope and attached it to the two tired people.

“About 30 people on the shore began pulling us in,” she said with a laugh.

Daniel Levy, who watched the entire event from the beach, said that some of the surfers saw Cunningham peddle all the way out. “She was far from the beach,” Levy said. “When she realized how far out she was, she began to wave and yell. The lifeguards went in to get her and then the police showed up.”

Just as the people were pulling Cunningham in, however, a police helicopter appeared overhead. Unfortunately, she says, the downdraft from the copter created “large swells” that pushed her from the board.

Cunningham credits lifeguard Brian O’Donohue, Kevin McConnell and Louis Mendoza with her rescue.

Levy said that Cunningham was given a summons for “being too far out on the water,” but police sources could not confirm that fact.

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