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Long Beach: Ocean closed to swimmers after drowning

Long Beach rescue personnel at Ocean Beach Park

Long Beach rescue personnel at Ocean Beach Park in Long Beach after being called to a swimmer in distress on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. A man, 26, drowned while swimming in an area with no lifeguards on duty, police said. Credit: Jim Staubitser

Less than 24 hours after a Brooklyn man drowned at Ocean Beach Park in Long Beach, the city early Tuesday closed beaches to swimmers.

Heavy surf and treacherous rip currents continued throughout the day, with Hurricane Gaston churning the Atlantic Ocean a thousand miles to the southeast. Officials said they will decide day to day on the status of the beaches for swimming.

“The water is very big and the rips are bad,” Long Beach lifeguard chief Paul Gillespie said. “We’re not letting anyone in except the surfers.”

He warned swimmers: “The number one rule is, do not go in the water when lifeguards are not on duty.”

The dead man, who Long Beach police identified as Lorenzo Alvarez-Rodolfo, 26, was one of two men lifeguards pulled from the water at Edwards Boulevard at 6:24 p.m. Monday.

Lifeguards had gone off duty at 6 p.m. but responded to a call from police, he said. A third man who was with them swam to shore on his own, Gillespie said.

Hurricane Gaston may be well to the east of Long Island’s South Shore, but its 105 mile-per-hour winds are having a powerful effect on local waters, National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Conte said, with waves up to 7 feet on the East End.

“The strong winds that are circulating around this system are moving toward the northwest, toward our coastlines on New Jersey and New York, producing these rip currents,” he said.

Officials restricted swimming at a number of Long Island beaches Tuesday. Bodyboarding was prohibited at all state beaches on the Atlantic, including Jones Beach and Robert Moses, said George Gorman, Long Island deputy regional director of state parks.

Lifeguards were also asking swimmers to stay close to the shore and lifeguard stands.

Islip was flying red flags and limiting the swimming area. Oyster Bay closed beaches to swimming for part of the morning, and Hempstead Town was restricting swimmers to knee-deep water at its beaches because of the conditions.

“We may be forced to make further restrictions,” town spokesman Mike Deery said. “We’ll do that as our lifeguards and supervisors monitor the conditions.”

With Laura Blasey


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