NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two kayakers say they were in distress. Authorities, however, say they were trespassing when they breached a security perimeter at Kennedy Airport.
Airport workers found the men on a navigational pier at the end of a runway around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
The men told the New York Post they rowed to the closest point on shore after overturning their kayak and losing a pair of paddles in Jamaica Bay.
They told CBS 2’s Matt Kozar that they were near drowning when their kayak rolled over.
“We were almost drowning. We couldn’t hang onto the boat, and we were getting pulled under and out,” Anthony Giglio said.
The men drifted to safety and grabbed onto an old pier on airport property, not far from a runway.
“We found a construction worker, and he said, ‘are you guys alright? Thank god you’re alive,'” Giglio said.
It was the same runway where a dripping wet man scaled an 8-foot fence and walked into the airport after his personal watercraft ran out of gas in August 2012.
In both cases, the airport’s $100 million Perimeter Intrusion Detection System of surveillance cameras and motion detectors failed to detect the men who climbed ashore.
The incidents have raised serious security concerns.
“You’ve got a system that is supposed to provide protection, and what happened?” Counter Terrorism Expert, William Vorlicek said.
A law enforcement source told CBS News that the kayakers were not close enough to the airport to set off any alarms.
In a statement the Port Authority said: “(the) kayakers did not breach the secure airfield. They were seeking help in a restricted water area and at a light pier.”
EMTs rushed the kayakers to Jamaica Hospital where they were treated for hypothermia.
The Port Authority Police Union said that JFK’s security system is flawed and a failure.
Port Authority Police issued the kayakers summonses.
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