NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One 13-year-old boy is dead and his cousin of the same age was hospitalized in critical condition Friday evening, after rescuers pulled them out of the Bronx River Friday afternoon.
As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the Fire Department responded to a call shortly after 3 p.m. claiming two teens — reported to be cousins — had jumped into the river near Starlight Park in the West Farms section of the Bronx, near 172nd Street.
Rescuers could be seen running with the apparently unconscious teen on a gurney toward an ambulance at around 3:30 p.m. He was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital and was later transferred to the intensive care unit at Montefiore Medical Center, where he was reported in critical condition Friday evening.
A second teen was pulled from the water at around 4:20 p.m. That teen, identified as Erikson Villa of the Bronx, was later pronounced dead at St. Barnabas.
CPR revived the first boy’s pulse and blood pressure, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported. But the second teen was in the water for more than an hour and could not be saved.
Witnesses told CBS 2 the two boys were at the park with friends when they decided to jump into the river at Starlight Park.
“They decided to go in the lake, saying, ‘Oh, let’s go swimming; let’s go play in the water,’” said witness Diamonique Mims.
But an afternoon of fun quickly turned into a desperate and horrifying search.
“Two decided to jump in, one after jumped in after him, but he saw that he couldn’t swim, so he got back out,” Mims said.
After they didn’t surface, people here called 911. Crews arrived and sent divers into the water, and rescuers in canoes were also on the scene. An air-rescue chopper waited nearby if needed.
“The kids that were swimming with the other victims, and they pinpointed the area where they went down, and we looked directly in that area and were able to quickly recover one,” said FDNY Deputy Chief Anthony Montera. “The other one took longer to find — no visibility down there; very hard to see anything.”
Other teens at the scene were shaken after witnessing the dramatic rescue.
“I was upset after; I was crying,” Mims said. “We were really close.”
As 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported, there are two brand new piers at Starlight Park for fishing, but also two small signs in small letters that say swimming is prohibited.
One of Villa’s neighbors said the river’s edge was a tragedy waiting to happen.
“I don’t think children should be there without their parents’ consent, or being there, someone adult should be around watching them at all times anyways,” the man said. “It should probably be closed off so kids don’t just jump into there.”
State Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-The Bronx) said the city has to offer children more things to do.
“We have to open more recreational areas for our youth for after-school programs, so instead of coming here to swim, they could have swimming pools,” Diaz said.
He said even if a person knows how to swim, the water in the Bronx River looks filthy.
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