Father, son stuck in strong rip tide rescued in Westhampton Beach

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, Long Island (WABC) -- A boy and his father were rescued after some harrowing moments Sunday night when they were caught in a rip tide in the waters off Westhampton Beach.

Eleven-year-old Justyn Espineira, who has autism, was swimming at Cupsogue Beach around 6 p.m. when he couldn't get back to shore.

His father Rick jumped on a body board and paddled out to him.

"There were waves coming in and out, and I was losing sight of him," Rick Espineira said. "I heard people screaming on the beach. Thank God that I got to him in time."

But when he reached his son, neither could swim back. And that's when the rip tide began carrying the two further out.

The victims were approximately a quarter to a half mile away from the shore and were drifting in a southwest direction.

"I tried to swim back and said 'let's kick together,' and I realized it's not working," Rick Espineira said. "I even thought about let's go sideways, that wasn't working. I just said I hope they call 911. I'll just hang out and wait."

Two teenage boys who were on the beach called 911, and Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau Officers Robert Femia and Neil Stringer were able to pull the two out of the water. Rick Espineria treaded water for approximately 40 minutes until they arrived.

"Justyn is autistic, and we wanted to make sure we didn't scare him at all," Femia said. "So we kind of just gave him a nice hug into the boat. Pull him up nicely, and that resulted in a couple of hugs, high fives."

Espineira and his son were both checked out by EMTs and are OK, but they were certainly grateful. The Espineira family met with the rescuers Monday to say thank you.
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