BELMAR, NJ — One school-age girl died and another is on life support after they were pulled from the waters off the Belmar’s Ninth Avenue beach at about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 15.
Both unidentified girls, who were cousins, were taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, where one was pronounced dead and the other is reported to be in critical condition. They were students at Belmar Elementary School, according to Mayor Matthew Doherty.
“We had a tough night in Belmar tonight,” Doherty said, providing a brief account of the tragedy. The first girl was rescued by Belmar police officers, who went into the water and were able to pull her out, he said. Belmar First Aid immediately responded with one of its members performing CPR on the victim while on their way to the hospital.
“When we were wrapping up, we heard another call that there was another person face down and went back in and brought another girl out of the surf,” he said.
A report of a third swimmer turned out to be unfounded.
The girls were not accompanied by an adult, and there were no lifeguards on duty at the time of the tragedy.
While the officers involved in the rescue have not been identified, Doherty commended them for their actions.
“It’s a lot when you take a child out [of the water] who is lifeless and face down. They’re heroic in their actions, but it has taken an emotional toll on them,” he said.
For nearly three hours, a full-block area of the beachfront along Ocean Avenue as police, fire and emergency responders, including a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and rescue boats from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division, converged to assist in the effort.