2009-06-19 / Front Page

Body Recovered In Rip Current Tragedy

By Howard Schwach

The body of a man who drowned on Saturday morning while frantically trying to rescue his female co-worker turned up on the same beach early Monday morning, police say.

Police officials stand on the rock jetty at Beach 14 Street on Monday morning with the covered body of Ramon Figero, who was pulled out to sea by a rip current the previous Saturday, and recovered from the surf. Photo by Chris Kalisak Police officials stand on the rock jetty at Beach 14 Street on Monday morning with the covered body of Ramon Figero, who was pulled out to sea by a rip current the previous Saturday, and recovered from the surf. Photo by Chris Kalisak The early morning dip at Beach 14 Street on Saturday turned tragic when a strong rip current roaring through Reynold's Channel pulled Daria Miranda, 24, off her feet and began to take her out to sea,

Ramon Figero, 35, who was wading with Miranda at 8:20 a.m., hours before the lifeguards came on duty at that dangerous stretch of water, dove under the water in an attempt to bring Miranda to shore.

Miranda's unconscious body was found by boaters, who gave the woman CPR and brought her to shore. She was taken to St. John's Episcopal Hospital, where she reportedly remains in critical condition.

A third friend, who had remained on shore while the other two went into the water, called the 911 emergency system, bringing a massive response to the quiet beach.

Police boats frame the Atlantic Beach Bridge. Nassau County marine units took part in the search. Photo by Howard Schwach Police boats frame the Atlantic Beach Bridge. Nassau County marine units took part in the search. Photo by Howard Schwach A day-long search using boats, divers and helicopters from several agencies, including the New York City Police Department, the New York City Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Nassau County Police Department, came up empty.

The search was ended at sunset and resumed Sunday morning.

It was not until Monday morning at about 10:35 a.m., however, that the body was spotted floating off the beach near where the tragedy occurred.

Figero is not the first to drown at that stretch of dangerous water, where the current comes ripping out of Nassau County and runs to the Atlantic Ocean.

In late July of 2001 three young girls were taking a dip in the ocean at Beach 17 Street when the strong currents carried them out to sea. It took nearly a week for all three bodies to be recovered.

Scuba divers from both the FDNY and NYPD worked for hours on Saturday to find Figero. Photo by Chris Kalisak. Scuba divers from both the FDNY and NYPD worked for hours on Saturday to find Figero. Photo by Chris Kalisak. In August of 2002, a 60-year-old St. Alban's grandfather was pulled into the sea and was lost after he pulled his son-in-law out of a rip current that was taking the two of them away from the beach.

There have also been a number of rip current related deaths on other Rockaway beaches, the latest taking place last July, when Tiara Coaxum, 16, was last seen in the water near Beach 116 Street. Her body was recovered five days later.

At least two people drowned at the Riis Park unit of Gateway National Park in the past two years in rip current incidents.

Rip currents are narrow channels of fast-moving water that pull swimmers away from the shore. Panicked swimmers attempting to exit the current by swimming right back to shore against the strong tide find themselves at risk of drowning because of fatigue, experts say.

Instead, swimmers should let the current carry them out until it dissipates and then swim parallel to the beach until they are completely free. They can then return safely to shore, the experts say.

Helicopters and boats searched for hours on both Saturday and Sunday without any positive results. Helicopters and boats searched for hours on both Saturday and Sunday without any positive results. Officials say that 80 percent of the beach rescues made throughout the nation are from rip current incidents, and that more than 100 people die from rip currents each year.

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