2009-11-20 / Community

Drowned Surfer Identified

By Howard Schwach

Barretto's body is loaded onto a gurney by firefighters and EMS workers who performed CPR on the surfer. He was declared dead on arrival at Peninsula Hospital Center. Photo by Chris Kalisak. Barretto's body is loaded onto a gurney by firefighters and EMS workers who performed CPR on the surfer. He was declared dead on arrival at Peninsula Hospital Center. Photo by Chris Kalisak. The surfer who drowned in the storm-tossed currents off Beach 96 Street a week ago has been identified as Alessandro Barretto, 36, of Ozone Park, reportedly an immigrant from Venezuela.

Barretto died, bystanders say, des - pite the efforts of two firefighters from Ladder 137, who pulled him from the water. The two firefighters had to swim more than 50 yards in the freezing, raging waves to get to Barretto, who was hung up underwater by the tether between his surfboard and his leg. Sources told The Wave that Bar - retto was not breathing when he was pulled from the surf.

He was rushed to the Peninsula Hos - pital Center, where he was declared dead shortly after arriving.

Other surfers on the scene said that Barretto was relatively new to surfing and perhaps should not have been out on a day when the waves were running 8 feet high and straight into the beach.

"We try to keep new surfers out of the water on a day like this," one surfer, who asked not to be identified, said. "Even the old-timers were staying out of the water. It was wicked."

"Some people don't have the skill to be out there," surfer Xavier Vallarta told Daily News reporter Brendan Brosh. "If you can't handle the current, can't paddle out, just go back to your car."

A memorial service was held for Barretto at the Cassese Funeral Home in Ozone Park on Monday.

His body was cremated and plans are to scatter his ashes in the surf on the street where he died.

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