A Suffolk Marine Bureau officer helped rescue two girls trapped in riptide currents and their panic-stricken mother Sunday at Smith Point County Park beach, police said.
Marine Bureau patrol officers Chris DeFeo and Ray Harkins were flagged down by a man while patrolling the park about 8 p.m. He told them he had heard people screaming in the water in front of the TWA Flight 800 Memorial near Mastic Beach.
DeFeo, a former lifeguard, said he spotted two girls about 75 to 100 yards from the shore, trapped in the current, flailing and struggling to stay above water.
"They could have easily drowned," DeFeo said. "I could see them bobbing up and down, and barely keeping their heads up. I could see the occasional flailing of hands and their heads coming up and down for air."
The girls had apparently been swimming when they were pulled out to sea by the riptide, police said.
DeFeo took off his uniform on the shoreline as a relative ran into the water and reached the closest girl, Adreina Collado, 15, who was about 75 yards out.
DeFeo then swam out to the other girl, Jairiamy Collado, 11, who was trying to stay afloat about 100 yards out to sea.
He swam back to shore with Jairiamy in tow, when the girls' mother, Nancy Collado, 42, ran out in water about waist deep and was apparently overcome, DeFeo said. She passed out and another beachgoer pulled her to shore.
Both girls and their mother, residents of Mastic Beach, were taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, where they were examined and released. Neither the girls nor their mother required CPR.
"The little girl said, 'Thank you for saving my life,' " DeFeo said.
DeFeo has served on the force for about 10 years and had performed several similar rescues. "You can get swept out to the sea and the current was pushing them out against a river of water," he said. "You can get exhausted and tired and drown. The best thing to do is to swim alongside the beach or until the riptide dissipates."