2009-08-07 / Front Page

Suffers Attack Fighting Riptide

A Brooklyn man, who onlookers say suffered a heart attack fighting the surf to get back to shore, was declared dead at a Breezy Point beach on Monday afternoon.

Police say that Michael Mathleson, 56, complained to his swimming companions that he was having chest pains as he tried to return to the Breezy Point Surf Club at about 3:46 p.m. on August 3.

Mathleson then reportedly keeled over while still in the water, and was pulled out by other swimmers.

When police responded, they found Mathleson unconscious on the beach.

A helicopter from the Police Department's aviation unit landed on the cleared sand beach and transported Mathleson to Staten Island University Hospital North.

He was declared dead at that hospital at 4:15 p.m., hospital officials say.

Sources at the medical examiner's office say that an autopsy will be done early next week to determine the cause of death.

"He was obviously in extremis, and then he collapsed in the water," one eyewitness told The Wave. "He was trying to get out of the water and the exertion was too much for him."

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