What to Know
- A 15-year-old boy drowned in Rockaway Beach waters after going for a swim with friends on Sunday
- His death marks the 4th fatality in one month off the shores of Queens beaches
- Just last week, an 18-year-old man died in Rockaway Beach waters when he went for a swim after dark and no lifeguards were on duty
The search for a teenager who went missing while swimming in the Rockaways came to a grim end, with his body being discovered Monday afternoon, police said.
The body of 15-year-old Maintain Joshua Odozi Jr. was found off the shore of Queens around 2 p.m., according to police, after drowning Sunday night in Jamaica Bay. Friends of Odozi screamed for help after the teen was spotted fighting to stay above the water around 6 p.m.
"He was struggling. He had one hand out, He was trying to get us to help him but he was going to far out," said Andre Williams, the victim's friend who says he almost drowned as well.
Witnesses attempted to help the boy but the waves were too strong, according to Odozi's aunt, Sherrell Footman, who is also the mother of one of the teens.
She said an adult tried to grab on the drowning teen but the water "was too rough, the wave got so heavy, powerful out there, that he had to let him go."
FDNY and divers searched the waters for two hours Sunday but there were no signs of the child. They returned Monday, discovering his body hours later.
"I feel like it's my fault because if I never asked him to go, then he wouldn't have and he wouldn't have died," Williams said.
"All I want is my nephew to come back to shore," Footman said.
Johnathan Pender, who was swimming nearby, said he never saw a current as strong as the one Sunday. Pender said he was walking to shore when he saw the teenager sinking and ran back into the water.
"The current was so bad it was pulling him, plus me, in the water," he said. "It was to the point where I felt myself fading."
He said the waves grew to strong for him and the others who tried to save the child.
"This young man is a bright kid," his aunt said, fighting back tears. "He was smart, well-educated, well-mannered, you know, 15-years-old, going on to the next grade, you know, very respectful, very loving, and he's gone. He's just gone."
His death marks the 4th fatality in one month off the shores of beaches in the borough.
Just last week, an 18-year-old man died in Rockaway Beach waters when he went for a swim after dark and no lifeguards were on duty. A 14-year-old boy was safely rescued in the same incident.
And earlier last month, a couple from Queens died off Far Rockaway shoreline after the woman decided to teach her boyfriend how to swim.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
NYPD has issued a warning for people to stay out of the waters when there are no lifeguards on duty.