Pair Of Off-Duty Lifeguards Pull Two Young Swimmers From Surf At Ponquogue Beach

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Publication: The Southampton Press
By Amanda Bernocco   Jul 13, 2016 10:16 AM
Jul 13, 2016 10:50 AM

A pair of off-duty Southampton Town lifeguards rescued two girls stuck in a rip current late last month at Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays.

Hana Heavey, 18, of Hampton Bays and Delaney Smith, 19, of East Quogue said they were putting on their wetsuits to go surfing at around 5 p.m. on June 23 when they spotted two girls struggling to stay afloat in a rip current.

Without hesitation, Ms. Heavey and Ms. Smith jumped in the water and headed toward the two struggling swimmers, who they estimated were between 12 and 14 years of age.

“The girls were definitely struggling,” Ms. Smith said. “The water was really pulling that day.”

Ms. Heavey and Ms. Smith said they identified themselves as lifeguards when they approached the girls and then “cross chested” them, a technique in which a rescuer wraps her right arm around the chest of a swimmer and uses her left arm for swimming.

Neither swimmer was injured in the ordeal, according to Ms. Heavey and Ms. Smith, who added that they did not get the names of the girls. A report of the incident was not filed with the Southampton Town Police.

“The mom was pretty upset,” Ms. Heavey recalled this week. “After that, the mom said, ‘Thank you,’ and the girls were pretty startled.”

The rescue occurred the day before Southampton Town’s lifeguards begin guarding the town’s beaches seven days a week, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. It also occurred a day before a West Point cadet was pulled, unresponsive, from Coopers Beach in Southampton Village after getting trapped in a rip current. The next day, two brothers from Hampton Bays were rescued after being pulled into a rip current near the Shinnecock Inlet and, the day after that, a father and son had to be rescued after they were caught in a rip current near Cupsogue Beach.

Both Ms. Heavey and Ms. Smith say they have been employed as town lifeguards for the past three years, noting that they typically rotate from Pikes Beach in West Hampton Dunes, and Ponquogue and Tiana beaches in Hampton Bays. They also said they routinely rescue swimmers from rip currents as part of their duties.

“I thought it was really cool that I got to save someone’s life when I wasn’t working,” Ms. Smith said.

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