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Funeral Services for Belmar Drowning Victims Set for Friday

Funeral services will be held Friday, June 23 for cousins Emily Gonzalez Perez, 12, left, Mitzi Hernandez, 13. Credits: Oceanside Memorial Home

BELMAR, NJ — Funeral services will be held on Friday, June 23, for the two Belmar cousins who died as the result of last week’s drowning incident off the Belmar beach.

Emily Gonzalez Perez, 12, died on June 19 after spending four days on life support due to injuries suffered during the tragic incident on June 15, which also claimed the life of her 13-year-old cousin, Mitzi Hernandez-Nicolas.

Visitation for both girls will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. Rose Roman Catholic Church, 603 Seventh Avenue, Belmar, followed by a 1 p.m. mass. Burial will take place at a later date at the family’s cemetery in Mexico, according to the Oceanside Memorial Home, Lake Como, which is handling the arrangements.

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Born in Neptune on March 29, 2005, Emily Gonzalez Perez was a fifth-grader at Belmar Elementary School. She is survived by her parents, Esequiel Gonzalez Cruz and Victoria Perez Reyes, brothers Alexis and Noel, newborn sister Genesis, and her extended family.

Born in Neptune on June 2, 2004, Mitzi Hernandez-Nicolas was a sixth-grader at Belmar Elementary School. She is survived by her parents Crisostenes and Martha Nicolas-Barragan, brother Alex, sisters Laura and Baleria, and her extended family.

The following is from their obituary: “Emily and Mitzi were always together, whether it was playing soccer, spending time at the park or trips to the beach. Emily played the clarinet, while Mitzi played the saxophone. They enjoyed dressing the same; they could always be found with a big group of friends or at home eating their moms’ home-cooked meals. They will truly be missed by all who knew and loved them.”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the families to offset funeral and medical costs through a GoFundMe campaign that was established over the past weekend by Belmar. It has raised more than $55,000 from some 560 donors. In addition, $20,000 from the Belmar Mayor’s Ball, to be held Friday, June 23, will be set aside for the families.

On June 15, the girls were swimming unsupervised on the Belmar beach in the vicinity of Ninth and 10th Avenues, when an emergency call was received by the Belmar Police Department at 6:19 p.m., for “a distressed person in the ocean,” according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

A Belmar patrolman and a member of the water rescue team arrived on the scene at 10th and Ocean Avenues, and swam out to rescue Gonzalez Perez who was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC).

At about 6:54 p.m., as a search of the area was being conducted, Hernandez-Nicolas was located unconscious in the ocean by several nearby beach-goers. CPR was administered until first aid arrived and took the victim to JSUMC, where she was pronounced dead, according to the prosecutor’s office statement.

While there were no lifeguards at the time of the incident, weekly lifeguard hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. were scheduled to start on June 19 — the Monday after the last day of school. Weekend hours are from 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. have been in effect since Memorial Day.

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