2009-08-14 / Letters

In Defense Of Lifeguards

Dear Editor,

Last week I wrote to The Wave praising the Rockaway lifeguards. I STAND BY MY LETTER and ALL THE ROCKAWAY LIFEGUARDS! Where are the headlines for all the RESCUES this summer? There have only been headlines about how lifeguards are "caught" doing something wrong, such as have appeared in The Post.

The photographer and the contributing writers for The Post should be ashamed of themselves! Taking a picture of a lifeguard, sitting in the rain with head phones on, supposedly not paying attention to the water! Look at the picture again. The lifeguard is FOCUSED on the water BUT there is NO ONE in the water! Just where was this photographer standing? On the boardwalk? Under an umbrella? How many beachgoers were on the beach this past Sunday at 10:08 a.m. in the pouring rain? ONE — counting the lifeguard! Let's see the whole picture! Who or what was the lifeguard supposed to hear? The fish? The seagulls? Or maybe The Post photographer running to his car so that he could drive up to the Bronx to take advantage of this unfortunate young man's (Danny O'Neill) family?

These reporters are nothing more than Monday morning quarterbacks! And unless you played in the game you haven't got a clue as to what really happened on the field. But they don't care. They have the leisure to malign the lifeguards instead of doing some investigative reporting as to what really happened on the beach, Saturday, August 1. But the lifeguards and everyone who was on Beach 25 Street that day know what happened. They all know that Danny O'Neill went into the water with his two friends. The lifeguards saw two people struggling in the water. They were rescued. It was not until these two were brought to shore that the lifeguards were told there was a third person. Then every available lifeguard went back into the ocean searching for the third person. Unfortunately, after being found, and many lifeguards performing CPR for over 40 minutes, Danny O'Neill did not get a second chance at life. It is terrible when a life is lost, especially a young person. My heart and prayers go out to this young man's family and to the lifeguards who tried valiantly to save him.

I wonder if The Post writers stopped to think that maybe the lifeguard wearing the headphones on Sunday, in the rain, was one of the lifeguards performing CPR on Danny O'Neill on Saturday, in the sun? Or how many rescues this lifeguard has had in his career? Or just how many times this lifeguard goes into the ocean, risking his own life, on a hot busy day to save unsuspecting beachgoers? Probably not - that information doesn't sell papers.

I believe newspaper reporters have a responsibility to print the truth and should put everything in its right perspective. But I am not a reporter. I dare these Post reporters to come back to Rockaway on a hot sunny day to see how focused and professional these young men and women lifeguards really are! But I guess that wouldn't sell newspapers.

So I will say my prayers and include Danny O'Neill and his family. I will also pray for all the lifeguards that God may keep them strong and safe to continue to protect all those beachgoers despite the mean nasty things ignorant people say and write about them.

JOAN FEENEY

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