Three firefighters from Ladder Company 161 turned to their fire hoses for mooring lines Saturday as they swam out to rescue three teens found stranded in the Coney Island surf.
Witnesses said that the three teens, two girls and a boy between 16 and 20, were hanging out on the rocks jutting out into the ocean near the corner of West 16th Street and Surf Avenue during low tide on the evening of May 17.
As they wiled away the evening on the rocks, high tide, along with a few large waves, came in with a vengeance, leaving the three clinging to the last few rocks left above water about 70 feet from shore.
Using some of their fellow smoke eaters as shoreline “anchors,” the three firefighters secured themselves with ropes and ventured out into the water to get the nearly submerged teens.
“The water was ice cold,” FDNY rescuer Robert Scheer told reporters during a brief press conference later that night. “One girl had water up to her neck.”
The three firefighters each grabbed one of the victims and brought them to shore without incident, officials said. Paramedics took the teens to Coney Island Hospital where they were treated for cuts and other minor injuries.
“The tide was coming up and getting higher,” said FDNY Lieutenant Anthony Smaldone. “It was a matter of time till they fell off the rocks and got hurt or maybe drowned.”
Smaldone told reporters that this isn’t the first time that members of Ladder Company 161, located on West 8th Street, had been called to rescue someone who ventured out too far.”
“I don’t understand why [the teens] were out there,” he pondered. “If you don’t know how to swim, don’t go that far out into the water.”