Police and relatives say a Long Island man drowned helping to rescue his young nephew who was struggling in the water during a beach outing on the Fourth of July.
Southold Town police say Leonel Ortiz Lemus drowned at the Mattituck Inlet Wednesday while trying to help children who had gone in too deep. Lemus was 41 and lived in Central Islip.
His daughter Jessica Ortiz says the roughly 10-year-old nephew and other relatives went into water that abruptly became too deep for them to stand. They were in an area without lifeguards.
She says her father couldn't swim but ran into the water in jeans and flip-flips to aid his nephew. The boy was pulled to safety.
Ortiz says she tried to save her father but couldn't.