NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City officials are calling for citywide water safety reforms after a 10-year-old girl drowned while swimming with no lifeguard on duty on Coney Island.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Councilman Mark Treyger and others spent the morning on the Coney Island boardwalk passing out fliers with water safety tips, not far from where Takara McDuffy drowned Tuesday.
The little girl died after being pulled from the water near Stillwell Avenue.
“I can’t do this,” said Chelsea McDuffy, who was too distraught to talk about her little sister on Wednesday. “I can’t do this.”
Around 7 p.m., Takara and her 9-year-old sister were in the water when witnesses said strong waves pulled them far from the shore.
“I hear a little girl say, ‘help, help,'” said witness Cory Murray.
Murray and another good Samaritan rushed in to help. They pulled the younger sister to safety, but precious minutes passed before they spotted Takara.
“We couldn’t find her for a good five minutes,” Murray said. “Then she showed up to shore seven minutes after. They came and did CPR on her.”
Takara was taken to the hospital, where she later died.
There were no lifeguards on duty at the time. The Parks Department said lifeguards work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Swimming is prohibited when they’re off, but many people still brave the water.
That’s why Treyger is calling for more patrols from the Parks Department.
“This is the biggest beach in New York City, it is the height of irresponsibility not to provide this neighborhood more PEP (Park Enforcement Patrol) officers,” Treyger told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell.
The Parks Department has not returned calls and emails from CBS 2 asking how many patrols are assigned to the Coney Island beach.
Volunteers who helped hand out fliers Wednesday said education is another key step to keeping people safe in the water.
“Not understanding where you are, knowing if it’s a safe place, can be the start of a problem that can result in a tragedy,” said Shawn Slevin with the Swim Strong Foundation.
Adams is proposing that water safety be taught in public schools at a cost per pupil of $150, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“No one is teaching the ABCs of swimming,” Adams said. “We can’t put a price on public safety. We can’t put a price on having a parent not receive a phone call that their child has drowned.”
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