Search for Missing Swimmer in Waters off Queens

7 Online - August 01, 2019

ROCKAWAY BEACH, Queens (WABC) -- The search for a missing teenage swimmer in Queens ended in tragedy.

An 18-year-old and a 14-year-old went swimming in the waters off of the Rockaways Tuesday night, but only one made it out alive.

Police found the 18-year-old's body after around 3:30 a.m. on a jetty near Beach 61st Street and the boardwalk. He was identified as John Munoz, of Brooklyn.

They rescued Munoz's friend Tuesday night. The 14-year-old boy was taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition. Once it got dark, they called off the search for Munoz.

"They found one of the gentleman, and even one of the scuba divers was actually injured because the waves are so dangerous. They constantly tell people not to stand on those rocks over there," an eyewitness said.

This was the third drowning death in Rockaways this month.

This July, a couple from Inwood drowned off Beach 9th Street.

All three deaths occurred after lifeguards were off duty. Swimming is prohibited after the lifeguards leave at 6 p.m. each day.

Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents the Rockaways, said he cannot stress enough how dangerous swimming it is to swim in the ocean without a lifeguard.

"After another unfortunate drowning in the Rockaways, the city should be investing in more free swimming lessons and consider extending lifeguard hours for as long as possible, especially during late July and early August when people are still trying to manage the heat well into the evening. My heart goes out to the family of this young man whose life was taken far too soon," Richards said in a statement.