New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. was relaxing at his vacation home when he heard the commotion around 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
The girls were with a group of about six children and had apparently been swimming in the choppy waters, despite the fact that swimming had been barred the entire day and no lifeguards were present.
Vallone’s brothers, Paul and Perry, were by the water and tried to warn the kids to get out before the two girls were swept away by the strong current.
“Perry went in and got the one who was closest and Paul was swimming out towards the one who was being swept right into the rocked jetty,” Vallone said. “That’s when I saw what was happening and I ran out. Paul had grabbed the girl already and thank God he did cause she’d be dead. I helped to pull the second girl in and luckily we got them all in.”
The Vallone brothers are all trained lifeguards and had each worked at the beach for about seven years.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re lifeguard, it is still scary,” Vallone said. “No one was allowed to swim that day and this isn’t ‘Baywatch’ when lifeguards can just run in and grab somebody and swim out. You’re supposed to have equipment and ropes in this type of water.”
Vallone said the children were lucky he and his brothers were nearby.
“Their parents were not watching, not that it would’ve mattered if they were, because there’s no way untrained people would’ve got those kids out,” Vallone said. “The parents had come down, finally. They were thanking us but none of us were in the mood to talk at that point because we were kind of angry and my brother Perry was visibly shaking, just from being so upset and the physical stress.”
Eyewitnesses gave Vallone and his brothers a standing ovation on their return to the beach.
“I feel great now, it was kind of scary when it was happening but if my two brothers were not down by that water and did not see it from the first second those kids would be gone,” Vallone said.
The two girls were not injured.