2010-12-24 / Front Page

Surfer Dies After Month In Coma

By Howard Schwach

A Corona man, who was surfing on Beach 92 Street at about 4:56 p.m. on November 12 when his leg tether got caught in an unused and rotting jetty, died after being in a coma since the accident.


Male model Charles DeVoe, who has been in a coma since his November 12 surfing accident in Rockaway, died late last week from his injuries. Male model Charles DeVoe, who has been in a coma since his November 12 surfing accident in Rockaway, died late last week from his injuries. Police have identified the man as Charles Devoe, 28, a well-known male model who posed for such clients as Vogue Nippon, V, Anne Klein and Buffalo Jeans, had been hospitalized since the November 12 incident. He died Friday.

Fellow surfers and fire department divers swam out to help the distressed man, whose ankle tether – a line that ties a surfer to his board – got snagged on the submerged wooden pylons that were part of a long-removed jetty system.

“The pylons are super dangerous,” said a surfer who witnessed the accident. “It’s only a matter of time before they kill somebody.”

Near the same jetty, an area that surfers call “The Sticks,” a 36-year-old surfer died exactly a year ago when he was knocked from his board into nearby rocks.

Shaun Reen has lived in Rockaway for 57 years. He says he has been surfing the area for 45 years.

“I understand the initial need for the construction of the wooden jetties,” Reen told The Wave. “History has proven that they did not save the beach as they were intended to do. Now, dilapidated and pointed, they only pose a hazard to surfers. Ten years ago or so, the Army Corps of Engineers filled in the beaches and cut off the ends of the jetties so the coastline might look more like North Carolina. Now, most people have no idea where the jetties are, red flags notwithstanding.”

“I grew up with these jetties,” he added, “but now they have to go.”

Reen said angrily that if the city won’t remove the “sticks,” then the surfers should be given the go-ahead to do it for themselves.

“It’s not surfing that kills us, nor the waves,” he argued. “In this case, it’s the city that allows these ‘sticks’ to remain in place.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Parks said that an erosion study is underway and is expected to include recommendations for the future of the pylons.

Devoe’s agency, Major Model Management, confirmed his death but did not immediately release any details.

Devoe hailed from Philadelphia, and his parents spent much of the last month by his side at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

At first it appeared he might pull through, but his condition recently took a turn for the worse.

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