NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The search for a swimmer who went missing in the waters off Far Rockaway, Queens ended in tragedy late Wednesday.
Authorities say 19-year-old Keith Johnson, of the Bronx, was last seen in the water near Beach 13th Street around 6:30 p.m.
His friend was in tears as she waited for any sign of him.
Trishawnda Fancy says they were playing near the water when all of a sudden Johnson jumped off a jetty and never made it back out.
“I did not know that he couldn’t swim until he started coming back,” she said. “I was going to go in the water but I couldn’t go.”
Good Samaritans went under to find him but were unsuccessful.
“She was saying ‘Help my boyfriend, help my boyfriend, he cannot swim,’ so me and a couple guys went right around,” Junior Gomez tells CBS2’s Reena Roy. “We went into the water after a little bit to find him but it was kind of deep.”
FDNY and NYPD harbor units searched for over two hours before locating Johnson just after 8:30 p.m.
He was rushed to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Witnesses tell CBS2 the water in the area can be rough, especially for an inexperienced swimmer.
“The current is strong, my mom always telling me that growing up,” local Kenneth Van Duzen said.
“They had a wonderful day, went out to chill at the beach,” a family friend of the victim said. “He was doing fine in the water but I guess the Rockaways rip current got the better of him.”