NYC’s Beaches Are Still Dangerous—Even the Ones With Lifeguards
(Hell Gate)

NYC’s Beaches Are Still Dangerous—Even the Ones With Lifeguards

Plus, the latest in New York news.

One of the best things about living in New York City is the free beach access. When summer rolls around, we stuff towels into bags and pile into trains, buses, and cars to beat the heat in the temperate—if murky—waters of the Atlantic (because God knows there probably isn't an open public pool nearby to cool off in). 

But that vision of summer fun is disturbed by the fact that young people have drowned or disappeared at a disturbingly steady clip for the past few years while trying to enjoy the water at some of the city's most popular beaches. Two high schoolers, 16-year-old Elyjha Chandler and 17-year-old Christian Perkins, went missing on Friday around 6:30 p.m. while they were swimming with friends off of the beach in Jacob Riis Park, shortly after the lifeguards on duty clocked out for the night. Per multiple reports, Chandler and Perkins did not know how to swim, and were sucked underwater, presumably by a rip current, while trying to jump over a large wave. The Coast Guard began searching for the boys on Friday night, but called the search off on Saturday without recovering their bodies (although the NYPD, per a cloyingly self-promotional video from Deputy Operations Commissioner Kaz Daughtry, is continuing to search for the teens using some of the department's drones). 

According to the New York Times, Perkins and Chandler are just the latest young New Yorkers who've gone missing or drowned while swimming at a New York City beach:

Rip currents are relatively common in the Rockaways, on the southern edge of Queens, and have repeatedly claimed the lives of beachgoers, especially young ones. Last July, a 19-year-old swimmer drowned off Jacob Riis Park after getting caught in a rip current. The year before that, two swimmers, 20 and 16, died on the same day off a neighboring beach in the Rockaways, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which tracks deaths linked to rip currents.

In 2019, at least seven people died swimming off the peninsula’s beaches. All were 25 or younger.

At City beaches, the safety situation is generally exacerbated by the ongoing and seemingly interminable lifeguard shortage—because even when beaches are closed due to lack of lifeguards, people (understandably, if ill-advisedly) swim anyway, and fewer lifeguards means nobody to teach free, accessible swim lessons at the City's public pools. That's not a problem for the beach where Chandler and Perkins presumably drowned, though: Jacob Riis Park has been operated by the National Park Service since 1972, which means it's unencumbered by the union-related drama that dogs the City's lifeguard populace.

What's uniquely dysfunctional about Riis, at present moment, is the beach itself. According to a report from Gothamist, efforts were made to improve the beach last year by the Army Corps of Engineers, who dumped 360,000 cubic yards of sand into the area in order to expand it. But over the winter and spring, that new beach real estate largely vanished, "exposing unsafe 'deteriorating wooden groins, rockwork, and other structures,'" leading to beach closures in the park and erosion that may have disrupted currents and created hazardous conditions in the same area that Chandler and Perkins were in the water with friends before they disappeared. 

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday, Chandler's parents were still reportedly remaining close to the beach where their son was last seen, hoping the ocean will "give them back."

Today's links: 

  • You've heard of "too big to fail," now get ready for "too senior in the NYPD to face accountability from the Civilian Complaint Review Board." 
  • Meanwhile, the most powerful man in the NYPD—that's Commissioner Edward Caban—has been using his authority to block the CCRB from disciplining cops found guilty of misconduct. Good thing the NYPD is great at disciplining themselves when they do things like arrest journalists! Oh, wait
  • Anyway, free this chic, rude vaper.
  • "A deepening housing shortage is costing New York City nearly $2 billion in annual tax revenue while driving residents out of the five boroughs and locking others into homes that don’t fit their needs," according to a report by the Citizens Budget Commission.
  • In Queens, a 16-year-old girl was killed and her 8-year-old sister was critically injured on Wednesday after a driver ran them both down—without stopping—on the last day of school.
  • At least there's good news for the Knicks (if he can stay healthy).
  • One easy way that you, a disgruntled ex-JetBlue employee, can convince cops and the proprietors of the TWA Hotel that you've planted an explosive device there: "A manager at the hotel, which is connected to the JetBlue terminal, alerted authorities to the cell phone, which was found in the lobby and had a note attached that read, 'This is an explosive device.'"
  • "As a guy that likes to talk a lot of crap, I think it’s fun. I think it’s fun for the barbershop. I think it’s fun for every workplace," New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor said, after his team absolutely crushed the Yankees in the first installment of this year's Subway Series.
  • Godspeed to NYC Public Schools Chancellor David Banks, who has apparently never been around a 13-year-old who really wants something, on his proposed cell phone ban in schools.
  • And finally, an absolutely miserable poll for Eric Adams.

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