NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two bodies were pulled from the waters off Coney Island Friday afternoon, the day after a pair of jet skiers fell off their watercraft and vanished.
The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that the two bodies were pulled from the water near Sea Gate, Brooklyn. The victims’ families were at the scene, and the bodies were believed to be those of Willie Tom, 44, and Celine Fu, 29, who fell from the jet ski around 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Witnesses said Fu was riding with Tom on the jet ski when she fell off. Tom immediately jumped in trying to save her, witnesses said.
Police said the pair were submerged in an area estimated to be 10 to 15 feet deep. They were moving at a minimal speed through the 71-degree waters, and the tide was headed out.
But none of those factors guaranteed safety.
Several people watched the struggle from the shore. Henry Collet was enjoying the Fourth of July when he was pressed into service as a Good Samaritan.
“I seen them going down, you know what I mean? But it’s a loss. I couldn’t do nothing,” Henry Collet said.
“It’s really hard because the guy was screaming a lot, but we were trying to do something but we can’t we can’t do anything for him,” Jordan Gutierrez added.
Other witnesses said they were shocked by the accident.
“She’s just fighting up and down, he tried to reach for her but couldn’t, so he jumped in the water and she was fighting him, too, so they both went under,” witness Yessica Myrik said.
“We were just seeing the hands going up the hands going up and then eventually the hands stop going up,” witness Kenyatta Davis told CBS 2’s Don Champion.
Michael Tom said his older brother was a big thrill-seeker, and an outdoorsman who loved life.
“I guess there was no way he was coming up without her. He loved the waters. He loved fishing. He loved everything outdoors,” Michael Tom said.
Coast Guard officials said neither Tom nor Fu was wearing a life jacket. And by the time rescuers got to them, it was too late and that they had gone under.
The tragedy was fresh on the minds of boaters Friday morning.
“No matter what, if you’re in the water you need a life jacket, 100 percent,” said boater Abdul Wahhad of Brighton Beach.
While it was heartbreaking to admit, Michael Tom believed both his brother and Fu were gone before the bodies were found.
“It’s tough,” Michael Tom said. “He’s an uncle, no kids. Just an awesome uncle of eight nephews and nieces.”
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