2006-08-04 / Front Page

Wife Tormented By Husband's Drowning

Mistress May Have Been Beach Companion
By Brian Magoolaghan


Rescuers administer CPR to Julian Croban as they rush him to Peninsula Hospital Center. Photo by Doug MacleodRescuers administer CPR to Julian Croban as they rush him to Peninsula Hospital Center. Photo by Doug Macleod The wife of a man who drowned at Jacob Riis Park last week buried her husband Tuesday amid torment over the circumstances surrounding her husband's death and who he was with that day.

Elizabeth Croban, the wife of Julian Croban, 40, an MTA bus driver and father of two who drowned after, witnesses say, he had difficulty in the ocean, told The Wave she believes her husband was at the beach with a woman who he had an affair with six years ago - and possibly the woman's husband.

"There's a lot of mystery going around," Croban told The Wave on the day after she laid her husband to rest in Hackensack, New Jersey. "I'm requesting an investigation."

Police have indicated that a 27-year-old woman, identified as Yajaira Figueroa Vasquez, was with Croban and watched in horror as he disappeared in the surf. Elizabeth said she's heard rumors that her husband was continuing to see Vasquez and might have been renting a Bronx apartment for her. She also said she suspects foul play but admitted that her mind has been racing since she learned of her husband's death.

Elizabeth says her husband called her at about 2:45 p.m. last Thursday and said he was going to work. The Bronx couple with children ages 8 and 15 years planned to have dinner later that evening at Elizabeth's sister's house, but, unbeknownst to her, Julian sneaked to the beach with Vasquez. Julian reportedly got a cramp on shore and decided to work it off in the water at about 6:15 p.m. when he had difficulty and disappeared in the surf, according to police and other published accounts.

Rescuers pulled Julian from the water after a full-scale, 20-minute search. They administered CPR as he was rushed to Peninsula Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7 p.m.

Elizabeth said her son answered a call from police who were notifying Julian's family of the incident. Convinced that her husband was at work, Elizabeth said she thought someone was playing a cruel prank when the call came.

"No, that's a joke, because daddy's working," she said she told her son who relayed the message from authorities. She later traveled to PHC where she identified her husband's body, she said.

Elizabeth said police were not forthcoming with information about who was with her husband at the beach when he drowned and that has caused her to be tormented by the conflict between what she knows and what remains a mystery to her.

"My husband was a very good swimmer and he was very athletic," she said. "He knows how the waves there were." Julian, she said, "would know what to do" if he was being overcome by the surf.

Elizabeth also said this of Julian, her high school sweetheart who she met years earlier: "He was a very good father to those kids, he loved them dearly."

Vasquez could not be reached for comment.

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