Man drowns retrieving boat in Lake Ronkonkoma

Kayakers paddle near members of the Suffolk County Kayakers paddle near members of the Suffolk County Police Department SCUBA team, center, as they search for Sam Wiener on Lake Ronkonkoma Saturday. (June 23, 2012) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Sammy Wiener loved being by the water. He took his children swimming in Lake Ronkonkoma every day when the weather was warm, his wife said.

The 40-year-old man was there with his children Friday when three men asked him to swim out to retrieve their disabled remote-control boat, said Renee Wiener, his wife. They offered him $20. Then $40. The unemployed security guard went for it.

Standing by the family's trailer Saturday, near the entrance to Lake Ronkonkoma County Park, Wiener's daughter Crystal, 11, recounted to her mother what she saw: He made it to the boat, "and then he went under, and I never saw him again."

She said she saw her father go up and down in the water, then she turned around and he was gone. Police said Wiener swam 150 to 200 feet before slipping under the water.

Sammy Wiener's body was removed from the lake by the Suffolk County Marine Dive Team at 5:10 p.m.

Police received a 911 call about the missing swimmer at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Saturday, while the search was continuing, Renee Wiener, Crystal and 9-year-old son Bobby waited at their home.

Wiener described her husband as a native of Korea who came to Long Island as a child. He was an excellent swimmer, she said.

She was outraged at the unidentified men who she said convinced her husband to try to retrieve the toy. "Why would they ask a man who was there with his kids to do that if they thought it was too far to swim to themselves?

"He was a good-hearted man," she said. "He would go out of his way to help anybody in need."

Her husband, who had not worked in some time, "was probably trying to do whatever he could for our family," she said.

@Newsday

During the afternoon, she said that the loss of their father had not yet hit the children, who appeared calm and collected alongside their mother.

She wondered many things, including, "How do I get them [the kids] back in the water."

You also may be interested in: