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Hector Hernandez Hailed As Hero After Rescuing Girl, 9, From Treacherous Raritan River

'I Just Did What Anyone Else Would Do,' A Humble Hernandez Told CBS 2
Hector Hernandez (credit: CBS 2)

Hector Hernandez (credit: CBS 2)

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ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Officials in New Jersey had a busy day, responding to several incidents that required water rescues. It came on a day where many headed to area beaches to try to cool off from the sweltering heat.

In Perth Amboy, a 9-year-old girl and her 10-year-old cousin were supposed to stay at a crowded, supervised water park.  But instead, police said they went to an unguarded beach across the street and into the treacherous Raritan River.

“It’s just so inviting to go into the water to cool down, but the dangers that come with it far outweigh the momentary pleasure,” said Perth Amboy Police Chief Ben Ruiz.

After swimming 20 yards out, the girl started flailing her arms. She went under and her companion yelled for help.

“I just saw her in the water and just jumped in,” Hector Hernandez said.

Hernandez, a chef who happened to be on the boardwalk, was able to get the girl’s head above water.

“Eyes rolling behind her head, foaming at the mouth, she was completely gone — motionless,” Hernandez said, describing the girl.

“He gave her CPR, pumped her chest, got her to spit up water. She came to, was shaking her head kind of. He was heroic. He did it on his own jumping in,” North Plainfield resident Bob Wanagiel said. “He’s quite a hero.”

The girl was conscious when paramedics arrived.  Her cousin had been fished out by Hernandez’s teenage son.

“I just did what anyone else would do,” Hernandez said.

There were also other rescues that took place Wednesday in the Garden State and some people who are still missing.

Police in Asbury Park said that a call came in around 5 p.m. Wednesday about six swimmers having trouble in the water. Five were rescued, while one is still missing.

asbury park search Hector Hernandez Hailed As Hero After Rescuing Girl, 9, From Treacherous Raritan River

Authorities conduct rescue operations in Asbury Park. (credit: Debra Cote)

That individual is believed to be a 23-year-old man from Irvington, N.J. The search is expected to resume on Thursday.

Meanwhile, in Seaside Park, four swimmers were in distress because of dangerous riptides. Three of them were rescued, but an 18-year-old is still missing, police said.

The police chief said that there were about 8-10 rescues in the same period of time. The beach is currently closed to swimming.

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