Desperate water search for man in Queens

June 13, 2009 4:30:00 PM PDT
Police divers have been trying to find a man who disappeared in the waters off the Rockaway Peninsula early this morning.A young woman that was with him was pulled to safety.

The drama unfolded near Beach 9th street and Seagirt Boulevard in Far Rockaway.

Whenever they see helicopters here at Rockaway inlet -- residents know something is wrong. It was around 8:00 in the morning -- when Sara Kowalski -- who was out fishing -- first spotted a young woman in her teens or twenties -- floating here in the water.

"She was lying face down...you saw her t-shirt, her back...and you could se that she was wearing jeans or something," said witness Sara Kowalski.

Eyewitness News' Stacey Sager: You couldn't tell if she was still alive?

"She wasn't moving, she was floating," Kowalski said.

The woman was rushed to StJohn's Episcopal Hospital, but the chaos at the beach didn't end there.

"We heard everyone screaming again...there's another body in the water....there's another body in the water," said Kowalski.

Authorities -- spending much of the day -- searching for a 35-year-old man who may have drowned?his relatives waiting and worrying here on the shore?as the locals who know this inlet all too well -- said -- not again.

"If you go a little bit out, that current, is gonna take you," Far Rockaway resident Edwin Santiago said.

"Because the bay is small, it's deceptive to people that it's a safe place to swim," Rene Crombie/Far Rockaway resident said.

They say at the time this happened -- the life guards were not on duty...and swimming was prohibited -- for good reason. They say this area -- where Reynold's Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean -- is infamous for rip tides...and that is why people drown there so often. The churning of the inlet -- a challenge for even the most experienced divers.

"In my personal experience, two years ago, I had to put my knife in the sand, and claw my way back up to the beach...that's how bad the current was..." Diving instructor Mark Traub said.

"So if you're swimming, and the current is high...you're swimming on your own risk," Far Rockaway resident Jennifer Ali said.

Witnesses say a Good Samaritan used his boat to bring the woman back to the shore. The coast guard identies the woman as 24-year-old Daria Miranda.

The man -- 35-year-old Ramon Figero is still missing -- and the search for him resumes on Sunday.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Lakisha Bostick

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