A 15-year-old boy died after he was pulled from the waters off Staten Island, just blocks from his home Tuesday afternoon.
"When they dragged him out, his body was lifeless but you could see them pumping, so maybe there was a chance he was alive -- but they said he was gone," said Saxon Allen, a bystander.
The boy, identified to NBC 4 New York by relatives as Vaughan Mitchell, had been swimming when he went under near Richmond Terrace and Jersey Street on the North Shore.
The area was not authorized for swimming, and is closed to the public.
Shirley Scott's niece was with Mitchell when it happened. Scott said the girl told Mitchell not to go in the water, then tried to rescue him when she saw he was in trouble.
"She went in, tried to save him but apparently the undercurrent took him under," said Scott.
When she couldn't help him, the girl called 911. Rescuers arrived at 5 p.m. An hour later, divers found Mitchell and immediately administered CPR, officials said. He was taken to the hospital in cardiac arrest.
Mitchell had just graduated eighth grade and was dreaming about a career in the NBA, his family said.
"He wasn't the type to make trouble," said his older brother Daquone Hart. "He was nice."
Neighbor Taniesha Braddy said the area where Mitchell drowned is dangerous.
"They need bigger gates so the kids can't get out there," she said. "It's sad that the little boy lost his life. It's sad."
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