BELMAR — Belmar police Friday identified the 42-year-old drowning victim who was pulled from the waters off a borough beach last Sunday as Gilberto Mendez of Roselle Park.
Chief Lifeguard Harry Harsin told The Coast Star on Monday that while pulling in several distressed swimmers after their active duty had ended on Sunday, lifeguards noticed another swimmer struggling nearby,
“When they got there, he was already partially submerged. They rotated him, brought him in. He was unconscious and the lifeguards, EMTs and paramedics began CPR,” Mr. Harsin said.
“They were working on him for about 20 minutes before he was transported to the boardwalk and ultimately transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center [in Neptune],” he said.
A Belmar police statement Tuesday reported: “Despite the life saving efforts performed by the lifeguards and first responders on scene and during transport to the hospital, the 42-year-old male unresponsive victim died at the hospital.” The victim’s identity was not immediately available.
The press statement said that the police department had received a report of a group of swimmers in distress off the Sixth Avenue beach on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 6:06 p.m., just after lifeguards were scheduled to end their watch for the day.
“The beach was packed, very crowded, and the lifeguards were walking back towards the boardwalk with their gear to put it in the box,” Mr. Harsin said. “That was just after 6 o’clock, and some patrons had run up to them saying there were people in trouble in the water.”
He explained that the lifeguards returned to the waters to find a group of five swimmers caught in the rip current and promptly entered for rescue, as more guards, as well as the Belmar Water Rescue Team, were summoned for additional support.
Two other victims from the first group of rescued swimmers were also transferred to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where they were treated and released. No other information about the victims was available at press time.
“This incident did happen after the lifeguards were off duty, but fortunately for us they were nearby and with a quick response from them responding back to the scene, they were able to pull the five from the water, unfortunately the circumstances are what they are for the other subject,” said Police Chief Tina Scott.
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