Riptides claim 3 swimmers at Jersey shore

July 13, 2008 7:57:00 PM PDT
Storm-driven waves and currents appeared to have played roles in the deaths of three swimmers at the Jersey shore this weekend, authorities said. One swimmer drowned and another was missing following a Saturday evening swim off the Wildwood beach, while another swimmer died after being rescued from waves in Atlantic City on Saturday afternoon.

The National Weather Service said the tricky surf is because of former Hurricane Bertha, now a tropical storm, far out in the Atlantic Ocean and approaching Bermuda.

Coast Guard personnel, using a vessel and a helicopter, searched for the missing swimmer in Wildwood until about 7:30 a.m. Sunday, when the effort was halted, Coast Guard Petty Officer Chris McLaughlin said.

"It's beyond the chance of survivability for someone to be out there without a life vest," McLaughlin said Sunday.

The missing swimmer, Juan Moore, 28, was among three friends who swam toward a buoy about 100 yards off the beach around 7 p.m. Saturday, McLaughlin said. Two made it back to shore, but one was unconscious and was pronounced dead after efforts at resuscitation, he said.

Moore was from Philadelphia, as was the man who died, Ismael Lopez, 36, Wildwood police said.

In Atlantic City, lifeguards in a surf boat and in the water came to the aid of Abdul Rasheed Ahmed, 51, who was being carried from shore by a rip current about 3 p.m. Saturday, Beach Patrol Chief Rod Aluise said.

Ahmed grabbed a line thrown from the boat, and lifeguards in the water helped bring the man to the side of the boat, where he was able to hold onto its side, Aluise said.

However, he suddenly lost consciousness and was placed in the boat, where resuscitation efforts began, Aluise said. Treatment continued by paramedics when they got to shore, but Ahmed was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.

The Atlantic County Medical Examiner's Office said Sunday night that Ahmed had died of natural causes, not drowning, but further details were not disclosed. Authorities said Ahmed was a New Jersey resident, but it was not immediately clear where he lived.

The drownings were first reported by The Press of Atlantic City.

Meanwhile, lifeguards farther north told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune that they made several rescues of swimmers caught in rip currents generated by waves that are higher than normal this weekend. Surfers, however, were enjoying the larger swells.


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