MANASQUAN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Rip currents are now blamed for more than two dozen drownings since May along the Jersey Shore.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, it could get worse with tropical storms forcing lifeguards to work longer hours.
Rip currents down the Jersey Shore are no joke.
“We only went in up to knees, and then at one point, it knocked us over,” said Nacey Holtje of Manasquan. “We couldn’t even get out of the water. So we were like, ‘OK, done.’”
“I was over there and when a wave came I couldn’t get back up,” said swimmer Aryana Torres.
Manasquan lifeguards are on high alert after 14 people – including 10 children – had to be rescued Wednesday. A skeleton crew will stay after hours as an extra precaution.
“Yesterday was probably the busiest and scariest day of the summer — back side of that storm that came in yesterday and just landed here,” said Manasquan Beach Manager Wally Wall.
Red flags signaled all beaches were closed in Point Pleasant Beach Thursday.
“It feels like just you under the water; you can’t really do anything,” said Michael Bruno of Manasquan.
“Really scary – you feel like you are drowning if you don’t know what to do,” said Tracy Schultz of Manasquan.
On Wednesday, Manasquan only allowed swimmers in concentrated areas. At one point, a 9-year-old girl got swept out to sea..
“In the water with her mother and her grandmother. They were holding her hand. And the next thing you know, wave the came in and the hands let go,” Wall said.
“We had what’s called water patrol, so we had people with lifeguards, with torpedoes, just swimming out past the breakers for situation just like that, where the girl got swept out to sea – and she actually got swept right into the lifeguard,” said lifeguard Tim Farrell.
Lifeguard Antonio Garcia swam the young girl in.
“She was really nervous,” he said. “We had one guy on her, and then he got sucked out with her, but I went in with some fins, so I was able to bring her in.”
Even though the ocean was much calmer Thursday, beach personnel were keeping swimmers closer to shore.
If you feel yourself getting pulled, lifeguards say to swim parallel to the beach or to relax and let the rip current take you out – and then swim back. But very often, that is hard to do, as people panic – making it more important always to swim near a lifeguard.
All of the drownings this year down the shore happened after hours or before lifeguards were on duty for the season.