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Six swimmers rescued from choppy waters off Long Beach

Swimmers were taken to a hospital by members

Swimmers were taken to a hospital by members of the Long Beach Fire Department after being rescued from the water at Riverside Boulevard in Long Beach Friday. Credit: Jim Staubitser

Six people, including two children, were rescued when they ran into trouble swimming off Long Beach after lifeguards went off duty Friday night, authorities said.

The boy and a man were taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, said Long Beach lifeguard captain Steve Lieberman, who helped direct the rescue effort.

Lieberman said he was cleaning equipment when he got a call about distressed swimmers, shortly after the lifeguard watch ended at 6 p.m., leaving only an emergency lifeguard team of five people.

Then Lieberman said he heard a plea over the radio: "We have six people in the water. We need more rescuers."

When he pulled up onto the scene near Riverside Boulevard, he could see one of his lifeguards in the water by the jetty and two swimmers climbing up onto the rocks. Another lifeguard was paddling back to the beach with a swimmer on his surfboard, then went back out to help carry the boy out of the water, he said. Another group of lifeguards was pulling out a swimmer. 

"The water was bad when I got up there," Lieberman said. "It was really choppy."

Altogether 10 lifeguards went into the water and firefighters on shore helped tend to the victims, said Long Beach Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins. 

About 25 Long Beach firefighters responded, Kemins said. Photos from the scene show Point Lookout-Lido fire department and Long Beach police also on hand.

It was not immediately clear why the swimmers got into trouble, whether they got caught in a rip current or if they were swimming in a localized "bad spot," Lieberman said. 

Authorities believe the swimmers did not all know each other but coincidentally ran into trouble around the same time.

Kemins said a total of four people were taken to the hospital. Three had swallowed too much water and the fourth sustained cuts after being pushed onto the jetty by waves, the fire commissioner said.

Lieberman said the boy and a man were "not in good shape" and needed oxygen masks but were breathing on their own. Their conditions could not be immediately obtained Friday night.

"If people heed the warnings and follow the rules, there wouldn't need to be a rescue," Kemins said. "People should not be swimming when lifeguards are off duty. They're not only endangering their own lifes, they're endangering the people who have to respond to it and rescue them." 

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