PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Crews searching for a swimmer who disappeared in Raritan Bay recovered a body on Thursday.
Marine units from Perth Amboy, the NYPD and the Coast Guard had resumed searching for the missing 27-year-old man in the morning when a group of fishermen on a pier spotted the body, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
“A body was recovered from the waterway here fitting the description of the gentleman who was missing,” Perth Amboy Police Capt. Larry Cattano said. “We have not made positive confirmation yet that it was in fact the gentleman who went swimming.”
“My hair went up,” said Miguel Berrio, one of the fishermen on the pier. “I never seen something like that in all my life.”
Investigators said the man was swimming with a group of friends and relatives Wednesday evening when he got into distress.
Officials originally said the man had jumped into the water to save his girlfriend’s children — a 7-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy.
But police said Thursday the two children actually went into the water to help him when he started having trouble.
“He was swimming initially and the children went out swimming with him, and then the young children actually went to assist, to help get him out when he began to have distress,” Cattano said.
Bystanders then jumped in to help the man and the kids when all three became stranded, police said. Amid the chaos, the children were pulled to safety, but the man disappeared.
Both children were taken to an area hospital and treated for minor injuries and shock.
It’s unclear why the group was in the water. The area is marked as a no-swimming zone.
Residents of the area said the water is known for its powerful rip currents and the sand for its steep drop-offs.
“It looks calm, but the current underneath is unbelievable,” Raymond Gomez of Perth Amboy told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “You try to swim back, and you can’t. I swim. I swim good, and I can’t make it back.”
Santo Lopez, a lifelong resident of the area, said many people ignore the no-swimming signs and that police don’t patrol the area enough.
“Where is the authority? Where are the cops here?” he said. “They come sometimes, but they need to be here.”
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