AVON-BY-THE-SEA — The borough commissioners Monday thanked first responders involved in two recent water incidents, including one in which a teenage girl was rescued after her father drowned while trying to save her.
“The Avon Board of Commissioners acknowledged and expressed their gratitude to the ANSWER Team, Avon First Aid Squad, Avon Lifeguards and Avon Police for the professionalism, teamwork and bravery they exhibited responding to the drowning incidents,” said Avon Mayor Ed Bonanno. “Thanks to our beach supervisor Tim Gallagher and Chief Lifeguard Jesse LeVin.”
According to the mayor, on May 28, the ANSWER Team [Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders] responded to a water emergency incident off of Washington Avenue. The team rescued two teens who had been caught in a rip current.
“We wanted to specifically acknowledge James Magrini, Adam Iatesta, Stacey Iatesta, Michael Evans, Dave Gamble, Dan Gamble, Brad Child and Jason Downing,” said Mayor Bonanno.
The mayor also said that on June 9 the ANSWER Team responded to a water emergency near the Sylvania Avenue beach, along with the Avon First Aid Squad, Avon Police and Avon Lifeguards, the NJ State Police, Monmouth County Sheriff and the Coast Guard. The mayor and commissioners thanked all of these agencies for their support on that day and for the teamwork and bravery they exhibited.
Mark Batista, an FDNY firefighter from Teaneck drowned while attempting to rescue his teenage daughter. [Story, front page.] The daughter, Leann Batista was recused by first responders.
“First responders were able to rescue a young girl who was still managing to stay afloat,” said Mayor Bonanno. “Tragically, her father had already sunk below the surface when the first responders arrived and they were unable to save him.”
The mayor and commissioners specifically acknowledged: Beach Supervisor Tim Gallagher, Chief Lifeguard Jesse LeVin, Michael Bascom, Neptune Township Emergency Management Coordinator and Incident commander that day, First Aid Squad President Dave Gamble and Avon Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Child, Jocelyn Cullen, the Sea Girt guard passing by on her way to work who was one of the initial responders, Ryan Shaffer, James Magrini, Eric Farrington, Matt Guarnuchio, Kevin Higgins, and Avon First Aid Squad members Dan Gamble, Tim McGrath, Dylan Federici, Michael Evans, Kevin Higgins, and David Hoecker, Riley Hauselt, Cole Hauselt and Scott Hauselt and Avon Patrolman Jack Lynch.
Both Commissioner John Magrini and Robert Mahon mentioned their praise of the responders and their hard work.
“It is tragic and it’s also difficult for these rescuers because they have to deal with it mentally,” said Commissioner Magrini. “It is a tragedy all the way around for the families, the rescuers who have to recover the bodies and we have to remember to be safe and swim with lifeguards.”
“It was quite a response on Friday, the number of people that were there and the coordination,” said Commissioner Mahon. “Fortunately, they did recover that body, and I say fortunately because oftentimes when there is a drawing the body is gone for a long period of time before it is recovered, so this group was successful and active in that regard during this tragic event.”
During the department head reports, Police Chief Chris Garrity also mentioned his gratitude for the efforts put forth by first responders.
“I am always left in almost a state of awe watching the volunteers and ANSWER members come and risk their own lives for people they don’t know,” said Chief Garrity. “It is quite remarkable, the selflessness and the citizenship they exude during those events is remarkable.”
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