Rip Currents Pose Deadly Threat off L.I. Shores - NBC New York

Rip Currents Pose Deadly Threat off L.I. Shores



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    Lifeguards at Robert Moses Beach.

    Rip currents are being blamed for another Long Island drowning death: a middle-aged woman in Amagansett on Sunday.

    Leslie Wanek Sgaglione, 45, of Old Brookville, was swimming at a beach without lifeguards, when calls for multiple swimmers in distress came in just after 2:00 p.m. yesterday, according to East Hampton town police. Sgaglione was found unconscious and not breathing a short time later.

    "It's sad but I am not surprised," said veteran lifeguard Dave Spence of Robert Moses state park.

    Spence is not surprised because he and his crew of 20 to 30 lifeguards spent an "intense" weekend responding to the rip current threat.

    Rip Current Danger

    [NY] Rip Current Danger
    Robert Moses State Park has been dealing with a constant threat all summer... rip currents. One lifeguard estimates more than 60 rescues occured this past weekend alone.
    (Published Monday, Aug. 9, 2010)

    One lifeguard estimated more than sixty rescues since Friday.

    "Some rips are so fast, an Olympic swimmer couldn't get through," said Spence. "Swimmers who are a step above dog paddling, well, they're the ones we have to go get."

    As lifeguards' whistles echoed across the beach, mom Monica Teichert kept a close eye on her son and his friends.

    "It's a very scary situation," said the Lake Grove woman, who has warned the kids to swim parallel to shore if pulled out by a rip current.
    "They have to be careful."

    Adding to the rip current threat is the size of the crowds at the beach.

    The two dozen or so lifeguards at Robert Moses have seen beach attendance swell this summer by a hundred thousand, according to state parks spokesman George Gorman.

    "That's a constant issue," said Spence. "We could always use more staff but you know the state's budget situation."

    Lifeguards also worry about swimmers in unprotected areas.

    To guard against that on this day, Spence steered his "beach cart"  to the far end of Robert Moses and directed swimmers back to the areas where lifeguards are on duty.

    "You have to pay close attention to a lot of things," the lifeguard of fifty one years concluded. "You have to watch everything."