By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
A quick-acting City Seasonal Aide saved a stranded boy and the bystander attempting to save him, pulling them from the jetty at Coney Island Beach on May 22. It was one of the first seaside rescues of 2021.
The scorching 89-degree temperature that day drew hundreds of people to the famous Brooklyn boardwalk and into the surf to cool off.
“Part of my job is to patrol the shoreline and keep people out of the water since City Lifeguards are not on duty yet,” said CSA Andre Cruz, a five-year seasonal Parks employee. City Lifeguards start work Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer.
About 6 p.m., Cruz saw a man and a boy on the jetty. The boy’s mother yelled for help. Her child was stuck and so was the bystander. Cruz radioed for help and started the long walk out on the dangerous jetty.
“I made my way out about 50 or more feet. I had to carefully climb the rocks. I couldn’t go fast for my own safety,” Cruz said.
Finally, he reached the pair and grabbed the boy, who was partially in the water. Cruz pulled the boy to safety as the Atlantic’s waves pounded the rocks.
“I put the kid in front of me to protect and guide him to safety. It was getting more dangerous between the choppy waters and the sharp, rugged rocks, so I got the idea to put the boy on my back. I carried him part way but that didn’t work so I put him down and carefully navigate his steps,” explained Cruz.
A second Good Samaritan came their aid. Cruz went back for the bystander. Soon Police and EMS arrived along with Harbor Patrol and Parks supervisors.
The child, bystander and Cruz were safe with just minor cuts and bruises. “I had to stay calm and in control of the situation. I had never done a rescue like this before,” Cruz said. “It was a high pressure and dangerous situation.”
“If I wasn’t there I can’t say what would have happened to the child or the man who tried to rescue him,” Cruz said. The boy’s mother thanked Cruz for saving her son.
“I had to calm my nerves,” Cruz said. “If I wasn’t there I’m sure other patrons would have called 911 and gone out onto the rocks to help but that would have put a lot more lives at risk. I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time to help.”
“Andre Cruz is an everyday hero. He is an example of the great work and service our members provide as they go above and beyond to protect New Yorkers,” said Local 983 President Joe Puleo.