A good Samaritan yanked a 10-year-old girl and her 9-year-old sister from the water at Coney Island beach after seeing them fall off a nearby rock jetty, but the older girl did not survive.
Takara McDuffy was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital shortly after the 7 p.m. beach rescue near Stillwell Avenue. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death, but it is presumed to be a drowning.
The girls, from Staten Island, were playing at the beach with a group of family friends. Witnesses told reporters that they were playing on the jetty unsupervised and fell into the water. Bystanders jumped to action, and pulled both girls to shore.
The New York Post reports:
“People came rushing from all over to help out. It was horrible, it was chaotic,” said witness Ena McCaskill.
After a frantic, 10-minute search, a man found the girl floating about 100 yards from the jetty.
“He had a sound of desperation in his voice,” McCaskill recalled. “He was yelling for somebody to help him save the girl.”
Another good Samaritan administered CPR on the beach.
“A regular guy grabbed her and started doing CPR,” said witness Joseph Josephs, 24. “He was pounding her chest for a good minute. A lot of water was coming from her mouth.”
McDuffy’s parents lashed out at those who were supposed to be watching over their daughters, the Daily News reports.
The gathered friends and family demanded to know why little Takara – who could not swim – was apparently unsupervised by the group of adults she had gone to the beach with.
“It took a man to jump into the water and pull her out. Some man saw Takara’s body floating and he jumped in,” the family member said.
“Why wasn’t nobody paying attention? You was there all day and let her go in the water. Why wouldn’t you ask if she could swim?”
The incident happened less than an hour after lifeguards packed up for the evening. Swimming is prohibited at city beaches after 6:00 p.m., and there were no lifeguards on duty.
According to Borough President Eric Adams, it’s the sixth drowning death of the summer. Along with Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Adams will hold a press conference near the beach today to reiterate his call for citywide reforms to make public beaches safer, and will also be distributing the following fliers sharing water safety tips.