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Recent drownings make for watchful beachgoers at Long Beach

Lifeguards hit the beach full time for the

Lifeguards hit the beach full time for the summer on Long Beach. (June 26, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by Howard Schnapp

Crowds packed the Long Beach shoreline as lifeguards stood watch near the spot where a 12-year-old drowned two weeks ago.

Across the strip of beach near Edwards Boulevard, flags - colored red or green - designated areas where swimming was allowed. At 11 a.m., few people were in the water. Most beachgoers walked along the shoreline or laid in the sun.

Some parents on the beach said they were keeping an extra watchful eye on youngsters in light of the recent drownings.

Chris Powers, 40, of Oceanside, brought his son, Jack, 2, to the beach as he has most Saturdays since the start of the season, he said. Powers, who works as an elevator constructor, said the news of recent drownings has made him even more cautious of his son's safety near water.

"I'm a lot more wary," Powers said. "He doesn't come anywhere near the water without me."

The two played on the shoreline and built sand fixtures as small waves hit their bodies.

Powers said he introduced Jack to water early, he said. "The earlier they're not afraid of water, the better."

Long Island park officials had issued warnings to beachgoers for the July Fourth weekend because of recent drownings and rescues at area beaches. In June, Nicole Suriel, 12, drowned off Long Beach while on a field trip with her Harlem school. In May, a 19-year-old Baruch College student drowned off Long Beach and a Queens Village man drowned at Jones Beach. On June 25, three people were rescued from surf at Long Beach by lifeguards.

On this sunny Saturday, Dora Carmichael, 32, had brought her daughter, Sophia, 3, to the beach along with her cousin-in-law Jessica Rodriguez, 34, who brought her daughter, Layla, 4.

The mothers lay near the shoreline as their daughters built sand castles. At times, Layla walked along the shoreline, but her mother quickly called her back.

Rodriguez and Carmichael, both of Kew Gardens, said the recent drownings have made them even more aware of the dangers at the beach. Both said they would not allow their daughters to go on any group trips to the beach or pool.

"I wouldn't want to put that responsibility on anyone else," Rodriguez said.

Carmichael agreed. "I think as long as you constantly watch your child, you're OK."

The pair got to the beach by 9 a.m. to get a spot near the shoreline. "The closer you are to the water, the easier it is to see her," Rodriguez said.

Others were lying peacefully nearby.

Karen Ciardulli, 31, is a therapist who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Ciardulli, who took the Long Island Rail Road to Long Beach, said she comes at least twice a month but won't get in the water until later months when it's warmer.

"I love the beach," she said, sitting near the water in a beach chair. "It's relaxing. The weather is gorgeous."


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