NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lifeguards have allegedly been lighting up while working at a city beach, and they haven’t been smoking cigarettes.
As CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported Thursday, six lifeguards have been arrested on allegations that they smoked marijuana while on duty in the Rockaways in Queens.
“I guess it’s a little outrageous, isn’t it, that people that are responsible for other people’s lives would be slacking off and doing things that are not safe,” said Sharon Korn, of Far Rockaway.
Walking onto the beach when lifeguards are on duty is normally reassuring, knowing they’ve got your back if you get into trouble.
But the six lifeguards stationed in the Rockaways allegedly did not think saving lives was serious business, as they were caught smoking pot on their lunch break near the corner of Seagirt Boulevard and Beach 10th Street on the Fourth of July.
The Fourth of July was a day with drenching rains and dangerous rip currents, with Hurricane Arthur off the coast.
“Somebody could drown, you know? Somebody who’s all drugged up on pot — how do they expect to save somebody?” a beachgoer said.
All in their late teens, the lifeguards were arrested and charged with criminal and unlawful possession of marijuana.
“What people do on their own time is one thing, but at work you’ve got to be responsible, because you’re responsible for little kids,” said Ed McQuillan.
The city Department of Parks and Recreation told CBS 2 it is investigating the circumstances behind the incident. Two lifeguards have resigned, while the others reported to be involved have not patrolled the beach since.
“NYC Parks employs some 1,500 lifeguards who work hard each day to keep the thousands of people who swim at city beaches and pools safe,” the department said in a statement. “That is a serious responsibility for which lifeguards are required to be fit for duty at all times.”
The mother of one the guards arrested spoke with CBS 2. She asked to remain anonymous, but also wanted New Yorkers to know her son is a hardworking lifeguard.
“He truly loves his job, and he truly loves being of service to the public,” she said. “He has saved many lives, and the first time he saved a life, he wasn’t even being paid.”
Still, that was no consolation for some parents.
“I’m shocked. They normally seem like they’re doing the fitness routines out here,” said Mia Mujovic of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, who normally comes to the beach with her kids. “So it’s got me a little nervous now.”
Lifeguards who work for the city are not drug tested.
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com: