The dangers of swimming without lifeguards

June 30, 2010 2:18:04 PM PDT
A simple summer day at the beach for some young boys, was an exercise in agony for a heartbroken father who was keeping vigil as rescuers searched for the body of his missing son.

14-year-old Scott McLeish was playing in the surf at Jacob Riis Park Tuesday evening, when a big wave and strong current pulled him under.

His friends tried to save him, but failed.

Lifeguards had gone off duty at the beach about an hour before.

"If we're not here, unfortunately there's no one around to help," said lifeguard, Bob Gaudenzi.

Veteran lifeguard Bob Gaudenzi says this apparent drowning and others in recent weeks, including a 12-year-old girl at Long Beach and a 22-year-old man at Jones Beach, are tragic examples of why no one should go in the water unless a lifeguard is on duty.

That training and expertise can make the difference when every second counts.

"In the case when someone panics right away and goes into that active drowning stage, for a child, it's probably sometimes less than 20 seconds. For an adult, maybe 30 to 60 seconds," Gaudenzi said.

Nick Pierro says he insists that his family follow the rules: No lifeguards mean no swimming.

"If there are no life guards, there's going to be no lifeguards to save me and my son if something happens," Pierro said.

Unfortunately, Scott McLeish's father knows all too well that the worst can happen.

The search for his son's body continues.