SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — As Hurricane Chris churns away in the Atlantic Ocean, Tri-State beaches are at a high risk of dangerous rip currents.
There have been several water rescues and near drownings over the past week or so and with rip currents expected to get stronger, there’s growing concern too many people are underestimating the danger over the next couple days.
Some swimmers chose to ignore the risk as high tide rolled in on the Jersey Shore Wednesday. It’s the kind of confidence that can lead to disaster. A pair of teenage surfers saw that first hand when they rescued a swimmer over the weekend.
WATCH: CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn Explains What’s Causing The Recent Rise In Rip Currents
“I saw him panicking and struggling and he was right in a rip current swallowing water,” Tom Picurro told CBS2. “When I got to him we were in a current and it sucked us straight out.”
That’s when Picurro screamed for help from his buddy, John DeVoe.
“I paddled over and used my surfboard as a flotation device for him,” said John.
With no lifeguard on duty at the time, the near-drowning highlights the risk caused by Hurricane Chris churning up powerful currents and dangerous waves.
“It doesn’t happen gradually, it just happens,” Picurro said.
Local emergency management officials have been holding safety drills to prepare. Volunteers even helped save a man in Spring Lake on Sunday night.
“We heard a swimmer in distress over the radio, responded, happened to be only three jetties away,” Tom Schofield from the Manasquan Fire Department said. “We were able to rescue and change someone’s life.”
With the storm expected to linger a few more days, people who live on the shore full-time and share their beaches are offering up a simple bit of advice; if there’s no lifeguard, don’t go in the water.
The rip current risk will remain high through Friday, then is expected to improve into the weekend.