NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A woman who works for the Department of Parks and Recreation was attacked on a beach in the Rockaways in broad daylight Thursday.
“I pray to god, and I’m here,” Margarita Melian told CBS2’s Matt Kozar.
Melian, 64, has cuts on her face from an attacker she said tried to drown her.
“I started to swallow water,” she recalled.
It happened on Thursday afternoon, at Beach 38th Street in Edgemere.
Melian works seasonally for the Parks Department and monitors a section of the beach which is closed to the public because it’s a nesting ground for plovers, an endangered species of birds.
She said she saw 24-year-old Jermyne Beaton swimming in the ocean and told him to get out. When she approached him, she claims he pulled her under.
After a few minutes of struggling, Melian said Beaton let her go.
“He switched his mind and said, ‘I can’t kill you,’ and he go and sit under my umbrella and drink my water,” she said.
Melian radioed for help and parks enforcement police arrested Beaton, who sources said is emotionally disturbed.
Residents said the area can be dangerous because of the homeless who live in the dunes near the boardwalk.
“Mostly people be sleeping in the woods over there at night time,” one man said,
Because of the attack the Parks Department has changed it’s policy, and told CBS2 that it will be assigning additional staff to the location.
Union President Joe Puleo, who represents park police and seasonal workers, said that’s not enough.
Melian said she plans to come back to work, and that she isn’t mad at her alleged attacker.
“I feel sorry because he wasn’t normal,” she said.
Beaton was scheduled to be arraigned in Queens Criminal Court. He has been charged with felony assault and harassment.