Dangerous rip currents on Saturday caused the drowning of at least one swimmer and left over a dozen more in distress at beaches up and down the Jersey Shore, authorities said.
Warm temperatures combined with fewer lifeguards in the waning summer season created hazardous conditions.
The remnants of Tropical Storm Odette, which churned off the Atlantic Coast, caused a raging surf, leading officials in some Shore towns to warn beachgoers to stay on the sand. Some beaches eventually were closed.
One swimmer, a 54-year-old man, was spotted by a pair of surfers off of Brick Beach around 12:30, according to local authorities. The surfers were able to keep the man’s head above water until local police, firefighters and members of the U.S. Coast Guard arrived.
The man, whom authorities did not identify pending notification of his family, was pronounced dead at Hackensack Meridian Hospital in Brick two hours later.
The Seaside Heights Fire Department took to Facebook to warn beachgoers to “stay out stay alive,” sharing a screenshot of an internal alert application displaying a dozen “swimmer in distress” reports in the span of just a few hours.
“Our responders have been out all day making multiple rescues,” Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy’s office said in a separate Facebook post Saturday. “Please give them a break and stay out of the ocean this afternoon.”
Details on the total number of rescues were not immediately available.
Authorities in Toms River closed down the beaches, citing “dangerous” conditions. The National Weather Service Mount Holly Station earlier warned of the risk of rip currents, powerful channels of fast-moving water that can suck swimmers further out to sea.
“Entering the surf is strongly discouraged!” the office wrote on Twitter Saturday morning.
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